There are three types of disclosure statements to provide potential unit title buyers with access to information to help make their decision.
Buying into a unit title development is different to buying a stand-alone house. As a unit owner you have different rights and responsibilities and there is some shared property you have an interest in.
The Unit Titles Act 2010 sets out important rules about the disclosure of information between buyers and sellers of a unit in a development. It is important that those intending to purchase a unit understand their rights to request information from the seller and how this may affect a sale and purchase agreement.
This page outlines some of the additional requirements that should be considered when purchasing a unit in a unit title development (as set out in the Unit Titles Act 2010 and Unit Title Regulations 2011). This is not intended as an exhaustive guide and does not cover many of the other important factors which are relevant to any decision to purchase property.
Information unit owners must provide
The seller of a unit must provide intending owners with three sets of information. These are:
- pre-contract disclosure statement, which the seller provides before entering into an agreement for sale and purchase
- pre-settlement disclosure statement, which the seller provides after entering the agreement for sale and purchase but before settlement of the sale
- additional disclosure statement, which the buyer may request some or all of the information a seller is required to provide.
The purpose of the three types of disclosure statements is to provide potential buyers of unit title properties access to information that can help inform their decision.
Disclosure statements enable buyers to be sure of such things as their rights and responsibilities, the function of the body corporate, who is responsible for running the development and how well the development is doing financially.
Before entering into a sale and purchase agreement for a unit, the seller must provide a pre-contract disclosure statement to the buyer.
The purpose of the pre-contract disclosure is to make prospective buyers aware of what information is available to help them make an informed and confident decision about the purchase, as well as to provide some basic details on the unit and development.
The pre-contract disclosure statement contains general information about unit title ownership, as well as specific details such as the amount of the levy for the unit, upcoming maintenance to the development, funds held by the body corporate, and whether the unit or common property has had any weathertightness problems.
A Pre-disclosure statement template is available to use below.
At any stage before or after entering into a sale and purchase agreement the potential buyer can also request the seller give them an additional disclosure statement.
The purpose of the additional disclosure statement is to make body corporate records on maintenance, finances, insurance, contracting and governance accessible to potential buyers.
Because this information may affect your decision to buy the unit, you should consider asking for additional disclosure before signing a sale and purchase agreement. A buyer can choose to receive only some of the prescribed information a seller is required to provide in an additional disclosure statement.
A buyer can request an additional disclosure statement at any time before the earlier of the close of:
- the fifth working day after the date the agreement for sale and purchase was entered; or
- the tenth working day before the settlement date.
If a buyer makes a request, the seller must provide the additional disclosure statement to the buyer within 5 working days of receiving the request.
The buyer must pay to the seller all reasonable costs incurred by the seller in providing the additional disclosure statement, but the non-payment of these costs does not justify the seller withholding disclosure. The estimated cost of the additional disclosure statement will be noted on the pre-contract disclosure statement.
An Additional disclosure statement template is available to use below.
Pre-settlement disclosure agreement
If a buyer and a seller have entered into an agreement for sale and purchase, the seller must provide a pre-settlement disclosure statement to the buyer no later that the fifth working day before the settlement date.
The purpose of the pre-settlement disclosure statement is to give the buyer a summary of the current fees and charges relating to the unit, whether there are any proceedings pending against the body corporate and whether there have been any changes to the body corporate operational rules.
If there are any body corporate levies or charges owing against the unit, the buyer should demand that these be fully paid (including any interest owing) before they settle, or that the full amount of the debt is offset against the purchase price of the unit. Once you are the owner of the unit, you may become responsible to the body corporate to pay these levies.
The pre-settlement disclosure statement must contain or be accompanied by a certificate given by the body corporate certifying that the information in the statement is correct.
A body corporate may withhold this certificate if a unit owner (seller) has an outstanding debt that is due to the body corporate.
A Pre-settlement disclosure statement template is available to use below.
Understand what you are committing to
Owning a unit title means you own a principal unit (such as an apartment or townhouse) and any accessory units that come with the principal unit (such as a carpark or basement storage space). Ownership of those units may be freehold, leasehold or through a licence.
By purchasing a unit you will also be entitled to a beneficial interest in the common property in the development with the other owners (such as lifts, gardens, swimming pools or gyms). The common property is owned by the body corporate on behalf of all unit owners. The body corporate is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the common property and may levy contributions from unit owners to cover the associated costs.
Things to consider
When you are considering buying any property, you should find out certain important information about it, for example whether are any easements or other interests recorded on the computer register (certificate of title) for the property.
When the property is a unit in a unit title development, you should also make sure you understand the extra obligations under the Unit Titles Act 2010, and obtain further relevant information about the unit, the body corporate and the development, before you commit to buying. Your lawyer or legal advisor can help you with this process.
While not a comprehensive list, here are some questions for you to consider:
- By buying this unit, do you know what responsibilities you will have as a member of the body corporate?
- Have you read and understood the body corporate rules and how they apply to you?
- Do you understand your likely financial contributions to the body corporate?
- Do you understand your maintenance responsibilities?
- Have you confirmed there are no unpaid body corporate fees, outstanding adjudicator’s orders or defects in either the common property or the unit?
- Are you aware of any contracts the body corporate has entered into?
- Have you read and understood the pre-contract disclosure statement?
- Do you have a copy of the body corporate’s insurance policy and is it current?
- Do you understand the role of the body corporate chairperson and on-site manager (if applicable)?
If you are not comfortable with your answers to any of these questions you may be able to get more information by requesting one or more of the disclosure statements available to you from the seller of the unit. The seller may also be required to provide other information under the agreement for sale and purchase of the unit.