What Property sellers have to disclose


Knowing what a seller must disclose to you before you sign a contract can vary from one state to the next.

In this article we provide a rundown. WHAT Property SELLERS HAVE TO DISCLOSE

With vendor disclosure reforms sweeping the nation, it’s tough to keep up with all the different rules, especially if you invest interstate.

Fortunately, for buyers, new legislation by some state and territory governments is making the due diligence process more transparent and is helping remove the risk of liability against vendors and selling agents later on for misleading or deceptive conduct.

However, some argue that the costs of the new disclosure can outweigh the benefits.

We sift through the legislation and speak to conveyancers about what’s happening in each state and territory – they range from stringent and what some say is ‘over the top rules to buyer be very aware.


ACT vendors are given the most exhaustive list of obligations in the nation, but that’s great news for buyers.

They’ve set a national benchmark in how properties should be exchanged and what buyers should be permitted to know upfront.

The ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) requires the following documents and reports to accompany every sales contract:

  • Energy Efficiency Rating Statement – this must be completed on a standard document by a professional assessor. It measures the energy performance of a dwelling from zero to 6 stars.  This rating must be included in the advertising campaign of a property and the report must be provided to the buyer. 
  • A Building and Compliance Inspection report (and invoice) – this report discloses the structural soundness of the property and if structures are approved under the legislation. The report must be undertaken less than 3 months prior to the property being advertised or offered for sale.
  • Asbestos Advice and Assessment Report
  • A Pest Inspection Report (and invoice) – this is where any termite or other pest damage is revealed. Like the building report, the Pest Inspection Report must be undertaken within 3 months of the date of the property being advertised or offered for sale.
  • The Crown Lease of the land – this will outline the conditions of how the land is held and how it can be used eg. commercial, residential, or rural use. (remembering that properties in the ACT are owned leasehold, not freehold).
  • The current edition of the certificate of title for the crown lease – this is a record of who holds the land and how it’s held, eg. joint venture. Also outlined will be anyone else claiming an interest in the land, eg. Banks holding a mortgage over the property. Hands of businessman
  • The deposited plan – this demonstrates the approved plan on the land and if any easements exist.
  • Encumbrances shown on the certificate of title (excluding any mortgage or other encumbrance to be discharged) – this outlines details of caveats or restrictive covenants over the land.
  • If any other encumbrances exist but don’t appear on the Certificate of Title then they must also be disclosed in a statement, eg. Unregistered mortgage or other unregistered encumbrances.
  • Lease Conveyancing Inquiry Documents for the property – ACTPLA must provide documents including if a heritage listing exists, outstanding rent under the Crown Lease, development applications affecting the property, breaches of the crown lease, any orders issued against the property, and the compliance certificate.
  • A building Conveyancing Inquiry Document – ACTPLA provides documents including certificate of occupancy, survey certificate, approved building plans, drainage plan, and building file summary sheet. These documents aren’t required if the property is a class A unit, the residence on the property hasn’t previously been occupied or sold as a dwelling, or If the contract is an off-the-plan purchase.
  • For units – information relating to the owners’ corporation (body corporate) and levies payable.


Last year the – then NSW Labor Government went on a witch hunt for gazumpers. sydney

The result? (Editors note: this article was originally written in 2011 and has been republished for the benefit of our many new readers)

Still no regulatory impact statement outlining vendor disclosure obligations.

Instead, there was the addition of a swimming pool warning to be annexed to the sales contract if the property is for sale by auction only.

A decision is still yet to be made.

At this point in time, a vendor must attach the following documents to the contract:

  • A section 149 certificate (the planning certificate) for the lot, stating the true status of the land at contract exchange.

Barrister Laina Chan of Level Nine Wentworth Chambers says the section 149 certificate must include:

  • The zoning and land use
  • If complying development may be carried out: Sydneysuburbs 496037222
  • If the land is affected by the operation of Sections 38 or 39 of the Coastal Protection Act 1979 to the knowledge of the council:
  • If the land is located in a mine subsidence district;
  • If the land is affected by any road widening or road realignment or a policy that restricts the development of the land because of the likeliness of landslip, bushfire, tidal inundation, subsidence, acid sulfate soils or any other risk (other than flooding)
  • If the land is subject to any flood–related development controls;
  • If the land is reserved for resumption
  • The name of each contribution plan applying to the land
  • If the land is related to any bio-banking agreement
  • Whether the land is bush-fire prone land
  • Whether the land is land to which a property vegetation plan under the Native Vegetation Act 2003 applies

According to law firm Allens Arthur Robinson, the Coastal Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2010 (NSW) passed by NSW Parliament on October 21, 2010 amends the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (NSW) and inserts new clauses 4A into Schedule 4 of that regulation.

Allens Arthur Robinson partner Nicholas Cowie says these new clauses took effect from February 25, 2011 in coastal councils across NSW to ensure property owners and prospective purchasers could obtain additional information relating to coastal matters affecting their properties.  bank-lend-meeting-advice-help-work-couple

Other mandatory vendor disclosure documents, according to the Conveyancing (Sale of Land) regulation 2010, require the following items to be included with the contract:

  • A diagram for the land from a recognized sewerage authority
  • A property certificate and a copy of a plan for the land issued by the Land and Property Management Authority or any of its predecessors
  • Copies of all deeds, dealings and other instruments lodged or registered in the Land and Property Management Authority including easements, profits, restrictions on the use of land, and covenants.
  • If in a strata scheme or a lot under a community plan, precinct plan, or neighborhood plan, copies of all deeds dealings and other instruments plus copies of easements, profits, restrictions on the use of the land, covenants, property certificates, a building management statement and a strata scheme by-law.


Whilst pre-purchase reports aren’t mandatory in Victoria, there’s a statutory requirement to disclose certain information about the property. Melbourne property skyline

A vendor’s statement (commonly known as a ‘section 32 statement) is required by The Sale of Land Act 1962 and must be available to an intending buyer before the contract is exchanged or signed.

Law Institute of Victoria spokesperson Eu Ming Lim says the statement must be signed by the vendor before the buyers sign the contract.

“If the vendor statement isn’t provided at the stage of signing, the contract is still valid but the purchaser has a right to avoid or terminate the contract any time up to the settlement completion date” says Lim.

From a vendor’s perspective, you’d be worried until settlement if you haven’t provided the statement or if you give inaccurate information, he says.

Lawyers Conveyancing outlines some of the vendor’s obligations required to be included in the section 32:

  • Statutory warnings to the purchaser
  • Vendors details
  • Title details
  • Any details related to building permits issued in the past 7 yearsmelbourne
  • Details of owner-builder warranty insurance if it applies to the property
  • If the vendor is the owner-builder who completed building works, a written inspection report (listing defects) must be outlined in the vendor statement
  • If any mortgages, debts or charges are charged against the land
  • Information about covenants, easements and any other restrictions on the title (whether or not they appear on the title)
  • Planning information, particularly where zoning restricts land use
  • Information regarding outgoings payable by the owner of the property
  • Disclosure of any notices or orders issued by the authorities, regarding fencing, road widening, sewerage, etc.
  • If there is access to the property by road
  • Information on services connected to the property

Apart from the statutory obligations in the Sale of Land Act 1962, the vendor must also act honestly and reasonably in disclosing any variables that might affect the property, says Lim.

Lim refers to land contamination as an example.

He says while a specific disclosure item may not be listed in section 32, The Trade Practices Act may impose an obligation.


Whilst the standard information available in Queensland includes title details such as registered encumbrances affecting the land and details of unregistered leases and tenancy agreements, Argonaut Legal Solicitor Tim O’Dwyer says vendor disclosure is barely alive in the form of a mandatory vendor sustainability declaration and a swimming pool fencing compliance certificate introduced last year. Brisbane City CBD, Queensland, Australia

The sustainability declaration, introduced last year, has been criticized by agents and vendors as a waste of time.

This is because for vendors to complete the form, they need to pay up to $400 for an energy assessment.

As buyers aren’t frequently enquiring about the property’s energy rating then paying for an energy assessment is considered to be a waste of time and money, so incomplete forms are handed over.

However, legislation requires agents to have the form readily available for buyers – blank or not.

Pool fence compliance is a different matter; the pool fence must be assessed and approved and if it hasn’t been, then the vendor must give the buyer and the Department of Infrastructure and Planning a prescribed notice stating that the pool may be non-compliant at the time of settlement.


A Form 1 Vendor’s Statement must be provided to the buyer at least 10 days before settlement.

When a property is for sale by auction, the statement must be provided 2 days prior to the day of bidding.

The statement requires standard information only, including: if any restrictions (such as encumbrances) exist on the title, types of services connected to the property, the rates, zoning, notices, orders and building approvals.

If the property is strata-titled, further information must be provided.


We thought Queensland was the land of the lawless where it’s a case of ‘buyer beware, but in Western Australia, buyers have hit frontier land where only the basic rules apply.

However, like South Australia, in the case of a strata-titled property, a copy of the strata plan, the strata scheme by laws, and the unit entitlement must be available to vendors.


If given the go-ahead on July 1 this year, residential land vendors must disclose information when advertising land for sale. (Editors note: this article was originally written in 2011 and has been republished for the benefit of our many new readers) Burnie 140540 1920

But apparently, it’s a big ‘if’ because the proposed draft amendment to part 10 of the Property Agents and Land Transactions Act 2005 has been kicking around for some time, so many people question just how far it will be watered down before it’s enacted.

“It’s been 10 years overdue,” announces Tasmanian buyers agent Rob Zubin of Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia.

“Up until now it’s been a ‘buyer beware’ market.  In the past, building inspection clauses would be removed from the contract by selling agents and opportunities to amend a contract before it became unconditional still existed.”

The Mortgage Choice Conveyancing Guide states that currently, the buyer’s conveyancer must perform all searches related to titles, easements and covenant, rates, local government, land tax and bankruptcy.

The proposed draft amendment provides a proposed cooling-off period in residential sale contracts, which lasts from when the purchaser becomes bound by the contract and expires at 5 pm on the second business day following.  When a sale is by auction, cooling-off periods won’t apply.

Under the proposed changes so far vendors will be required to disclose the following in a government-supplied statement.

  • Building, electrical or plumbing work – f any of this work has been undertaken, has it been approved with the required council permits? Any information on any illegal rewiring/replumbing, drains, decks, balconies, balustrades, roofs, stairways, pergolas or other illegal additions or renovations to the property.
  • Planning – is the land zoned for residential use? If it’s in the process of being rezoned, further details must be supplied.  Any council conditions imposed on the land use and evidence of any applications submitted to the council for rezoning purposes must also be disclosed.
  • Heritage listing – is the property (dwelling or land) heritage listed or in the process of being heritage listed? Evidence of any related correspondence must be provided. Hobart Harbour
  • Notice, orders, letter, judgments or writs issued regarding the property – if any of these documents have been issued for the building or structure, fences, trees or tree roots affecting neighboring properties, fire hazards, plumbing or soil contamination, they must be disclosed.
  • Building defects – do any defects or faults (such as structural faults, rising damp, drainage problems, water seepage soil movement) exist that might affect the property’s use as a residence? (Note: pest inspection reports aren’t necessary, see API’s May edition pg 102.)
  • Building work requiring an indemnity insurance policy – if a builder or owner-builder has undertaken any building work, an indemnity insurance policy must be provided (as required under the Housing Indemnity Act 1992)
  • Asbestos – has any asbestos been used as a building material in any building on the property? Details must be provided.
  • Residing at the property – the vendor must disclose if he or she has lived at the property since purchase. If the vendor hasn’t lived at the property (eg. Property manager, family member, tenant).

Apparently, this triggers a search on any capital gains tax or land tax owed.


Already passed through the NT Parliament last year, The Sale of Land Act 2009 is anticipated to take action from July 1 this year. (Editors note: this article was originally written in 2011 and has been republished for the benefit of our many new readers) 

Up until this point, the NT has adopted only a partial approach to vendor disclosure with basic information relating to the land title.

Once the draft is activated, vendors of properties in Darwin, Palmerston, Litchfield, Coomalie and Alice Springs local council areas must annex a number of documents to the sales contract, valid for 6 months.

These include:

  • A building status report
  • A personal Knowledge Declaration – the vendor must state their knowledge of any pollution by contaminant, or a drug premises order (if the police have placed a sign on the house declaring it a house used for the exchange and use of drugs under The Misuse of Drugs Act).
  • A land Titles Office title search
  • Details of registered and unregistered encumbrances
  • Unit information
  • Evidence of occupancy or tenancy
  • A swimming pool fencing compliance certificate
  • Rates notice.

Editors note: Please note some of the details required to be disclosed by vendors may have changed as this article was originally written by Nicole Navarro in July 2011 and has been republished for the benefit of our many new readers. It first appeared in Australian Property Investor Magazine and has been republished with their permission.


Subscribe & don’t miss a single episode of Michael Yardney’s podcast

Hear Michael & a select panel of guest experts discuss property investment, success & money related topics. Subscribe now, whether you're on an Apple or Android handset.

Need help listening to Michael Yardney’s podcast from your phone or tablet?

We have created easy to follow instructions for you whether you're on iPhone / iPad or an Android device.


Prefer to subscribe via email?

Join Michael Yardney's inner circle of daily subscribers and get into the head of Australia's best property investment advisor and a wide team of leading property researchers and commentators.


Apart from our regular team of experts, we frequently publish commentary from guest contributors who are authorities in their field.

'What Property sellers have to disclose' have 25 comments

    Avatar for Guest Expert

    March 24, 2020 Monika JOOSTE

    Hi . We bought a property in WA in May 2019. Even though we had an inspection, got plans from the council. We were not made aware that this property had not been connected to the main sewer as required by council and water corp by 2012.
    The agent knew by vitue of the sellers disclosure form ! but on questioning him he said – We did not ask!
    Do we have a leg to stand on against agent or seller?


      March 24, 2020 Michael Yardney

      I’m not an expert in WA law, but your solicitor should have checked which utilities were connected when they did the conveyancing.
      Have you asked them about your rights?


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    July 23, 2019 Lou

    We purchased a unit a year ago in Melbourne.
    Recently we’ve had extensive sewage problems across all three units on the property which will require costly repairs. The plumber has advised that the riser for the sewer may have been damaged during the replacement of the fence – work which was carried out well before we purchased the property.
    We’ve recently found out that the previous owner of our property had known about (and had attempted to fix himself) the issue, and that there had been a history of problems with the sewer on the property.
    No information on this issue was provided in the section 32, nor was any issue with the sewer picked up on the building inspection we obtained prior to purchasing the property.
    In this situation, do we have any legal recourse against the previous owner of our property, or the fencing contractor who may have damaged the sewer during the installation of the fence?
    Would this fall under the “the vendor must also act honestly and reasonably in disclosing any variables that might affect the property?”
    Appreciate any advice.


      July 23, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Lou – I’m sorry you probably have little recourse – the vendor is likely to say they thought the problem was resolved.
      But why not ask your conveyancing solicitor


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    May 29, 2019 Dianne

    We were sold a house in the Alexandria Council SA with a non compliant waste water management system which the Council has informed us we have 3 months to rectify. Is that our bad luck or should there have been some notification on the Form 1. Thanks


      May 30, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Dianne – I’m not familiar with SA law – please ask the solicitor who did your conveyance


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    February 16, 2019 A

    Hi Michael
    We purchased a property 3 yrs ago in Vic; and have since recently discovered that the outside deck the vendor built, just prior to selling, does not have a permit. Nothing is declared in the Section 32 although the sales agent was aware it was newly added prior to selling. The conveyancer did also not pick up the missing permit. Is there any thing we can do to complain about the vendor (as they are running a reno business and we know they have done the same with a 2nd property they sold) or any comeback to the agent & conveyancer for missing this?


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    January 12, 2019 Heather Tarrant

    A woman is selling a property on behalf of her brother, who has dementia (not sure if it’s mild or advanced). Who can sign the contract please?


      January 12, 2019 Michael Yardney

      legally the owner of the property must sign, but his sister can if she has his Power of Attorney


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    October 1, 2018 Cristina

    Hi Michael,

    I’m interest on you thoughts about my situation. In 2013 I purchased a property in Western Australia that was built in 1970 and had only one previous owner. Since moving in I have found multiple problems including illegal electrical work and building structures not approved by the council but more recently illegal plumbing which was approved by the council in 2000. Last week I hired a plumber to unblock the drains it was during this time he found illegal drainage pipes and have since had to replaced the entire drainage system for the house leaving me thousands of dollars out of pocket.

    Would you know what legal rights I have for compensation from the previous owner (or anyone else) and what avenue to follow?

    Any help would be appreciated.


      October 1, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Unfortunately there is a legal say: caveat emptor – buyer beware.
      While I understand that it is most likely the previous owner who made these modifications, it is unlikely you’ll be able to claim anything from him- it would be hard to prove he didn’t buy the house that way


        Avatar for Guest Expert

        October 1, 2018 Cristina

        I purchased it from the original owner who built the house in 1970 so prior to me there was only one owner


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    September 29, 2018 Les

    As executor, I am about to sell a deceased property (house is 60 year old) in Geelong which has lots of asbestos in a detached garage. How will this affect the sale.


      September 29, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Les – most (almost every) old house has asbestos in it – especially in outbuildings and garages. It will probably not make a significnat difference in the price


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    September 5, 2018 Jennifer

    Asking about the reliability of a tenant and their rental payment history is part of your due diligence. Generally too, I would think you would be considered a ‘sophisticated purchaser’.
    I’m not a lawyer but when you’re conducting a commercial transaction due diligence is imperative.


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    September 3, 2018 Jack

    Hi Michael,

    Very good summary of the disclosure requirements in Australia.

    I was wondering if there were any disclosure requirements for vendors in relation to land being previously used as a dam. This will affect the soil for construction if the land is later sold.

    This question is for Victoria, of which I cannot find anything in the Sale of Land Act, however you mentioned in your article about the the Trade Practices Act may have such requirements.

    Could you refer me to what section of the Trade Practices Act you are referring to?

    Thank you.


      September 3, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Jack – you’re obviously a lawyer and I’m not – so I don’t want to step on legal toes.


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    August 13, 2018 peter

    What if you purchase a unit in queensland and it was known by the seller that it the whole block of units have an asbestos problem . Not even the body corp said anything untill the sale was done. Is it legal in QLD to sell a property in a block of units with this cancerous problem ?


      August 13, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Unfortunately the anser is YES Peter. Many older buildings in Australia have asbestos – did you geta building and pest inspection done before you purchased the property?


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    July 28, 2018 maria benic

    We recently purchased a commercial property in qdl australia , the property was tenanted with a 4.5 year left on the lease

    we are now getting reports from the property manager that the tenant cant afford to pay the rent.

    if the tenant paying rent was a problem before, is this something that should have been brought to our attention before the sale went through , by either the previous owner , the real estate agent , the property manager or the settlement agent.

    who would have been responsible for disclosing such information if it was an issue?

    and is there any recourse and with whom now that the property has been purchased
    i would appreciate your reply


      July 29, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Maria – in law there is something called caveat emptor – buyer beware
      It is your responsibility to check the security of the lease. When we buy a commercial investment for clients we always speak with the tenants – usually not infornt of the selling / managing agent – you’d be amazed what they tell you


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    July 27, 2018 Amanda Kern

    Hi, I wonder if there is a duty of disclosure in Victoria regarding contamination of residential land from past mining activities, where the land was subdivided after the mining activity finished, but the contamination wasn’t identified originally? If contamination is subsequently identified, the current owner is notified, and then subsequently sells the property, is there a duty or requirement for the current owner to disclose this knowledge to the new purchaser/owner? Is there any legislation where this is required?


    Avatar for Guest Expert

    July 13, 2018 Rob

    Hi Michael,
    Great article, I would be interested in your opinion regarding an off the plan apartment purchase in Western Australia that I made in 2017. Prior to settlement it seems that the Developer made a sale of 52% of the apartments within the Strata plan to the Departmet of Communities or Housing Authority. There was no disclosure of this sale prior to settlement or publically available information regarding the sale to be forewarned and it seems that there was a deal done in the background.

    Would you consider this to be vital or important information for the buyer to be made aware of? I currently have a complaint in with the Dept of Commerce which is coming up to the five month mark so far.
    It’s ironic as a purchase of a block of land in the same area or others allows purchasers to view a plot map with possible lots they may be used by the Dept of Communities and it seems as they were not involved from the outset that it took place after the fact and was not disclosed to any off the plan purchasers. 13 of the lots involved are now being sold off and a different sales agent has been caught out in writing claiming that there is no “government housing tennants” in the complex.

    I would appreciate your feedback.



      July 13, 2018 Michael Yardney

      Rob – I fully understand your frustration – I would be very disappointed if I found out more than half the properties were sold to the department of housing.
      Let’s be frank – it will devalue your property and that’s why I think it should have been disclosed


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.


Copyright © Michael Yardney’s Property Investment Update Important Information
Content Marketing by GridConcepts