Conveyancing & Property Law
Conveyancing is the process of transferring a legal interest in property from one party to another. The process moves quickly, and several formalities and checks are required to avoid serious financial and legal implications for a buyer or seller.
In addition to the sale and purchase of land, property law covers many other matters such as subdivision and development, commercial leasing, advice regarding ownership structures, encroachments, easements, and property disputes.
We have many years’ experience in conveyancing and property matters and have assisted individuals, investors, businesses, and developers across a range of property related matters.
Buying Residential Property
When purchasing residential property, buyers should know exactly what they are getting and must receive clear title to the property. Due diligence involves a series of investigations to ensure that the property may be used for its intended purpose, that there are no adverse affectations, that the implications of any easements or other restrictions registered on the property are understood, and structures comply with local planning regulations.
Failure to complete a contract after it is legally binding presents a risk of significant penalties, so it is important to do your research before entering the contract. We will review your contract to determine the types of investigations that should be carried out and explain your obligations under the contract before you enter a legally binding arrangement.
Selling Residential Property
Before offering residential property for sale, a written contract must be prepared containing certain disclosure documents such as a title search, plan of the land, drainage diagram and local council planning certificate.
Contracts for sale of land should be tailored to the property being sold, reflect the seller’s needs, and deal with any relevant land tax and GST implications.
A written contract for sale must be in place before marketing any property, and, from the outset, should be drafted with a full understanding of the nature of the property and the seller’s obligations.
Property Ownership Interests And Rights
The way in which legal interests in property are held between co-owners is an important consideration. You should be aware of what happens to specific interests in property in the event of a dispute, a relationship or partnership breakdown, financial stress, or the death of a co-owner.
Property held as joint tenants is held as a whole – the interests cannot be apportioned into specific shares and the joint tenancy is subject to survivorship provisions. When one co-owner dies, his or her share automatically passes to the remaining owner/s. The share cannot be left to anybody else, even if the deceased owner’s Will provides otherwise.
Property held as tenants in common can specify the individual shares held by each owner which need not be equal and may be transferred, sold, or left to a beneficiary in a Will.
Joint tenancies are common between spouses or domestic partners however may not always be the best solution for your particular circumstances.
An easement is a right to use property belonging to someone else in a certain way. The easement may be a private easement, such as a strip of land giving neighbouring landowners access to their property, or a public easement, like an easement for the maintenance of sewerage or electricity services.
Easements can affect the value, use and future development of land and should be fully investigated during a property transaction.
Subdivision involves the partition of land into smaller parcels. A separate legal title for each new lot is created which can be separately sold and transferred. Subdivisions can range from the division of a single lot into two, to the creation of many lots in a large residential or mixed-use development.
Land subdivision is governed by legislation, regulations, planning schemes and policies administered by local councils and other government bodies. Subdivision developments are complex, and it is important to understand the overlap of the relevant laws, and the many boxes to tick to get a project off the ground and keep it running until completion.
Liaising with local councils and other bodies to ensure appropriate planning permits are obtained can be complex and time consuming. Retaining experienced professionals to check off due diligence matters, liaise with authorities, prepare technical documentation, and explain titling and legal concepts is invaluable during this process.
Commercial And Retail Leases
Commercial and retail leases set out the legal terms and conditions through which a business may occupy premises to run its operations.
Whether you are a lessor or lessee, a lease agreement should be formally prepared and reviewed by an experienced lawyer to ensure a balance of rights between the parties. Many lease disputes can be avoided with careful drafting of the agreement to ensure all terms and conditions are clear and complete. The parties should obtain independent legal advice to ensure their rights are protected and the arrangement will deliver the expected outcomes.