Conveyancing is the process of transferring the legal title of property from one party to another. It usually involves the buying and selling of real estate with a loan agreement and mortgage also forming part of the process. These are some of the biggest decisions an individual makes in life, so it is important to be guided by professionals who are experienced not only in conveyancing, but in all aspects of property law.
We can assist with:
- Buying or selling residential property
- Off-the-plan purchases and sales
- Buying or selling investment property
- Buying or selling commercial property
- Business sales and purchases
- Mortgages, loan agreements and liens over property
- Stamp duty obligations, first home-owner grants and duty concessions
- Commercial and retail leasing
Buying & Selling Residential Property
Contracts for the sale and purchase of residential property must be in writing and contain certain disclosure documents prescribed by law. Signing a contract will trigger legal obligations for both the vendor and purchaser, so it is important to obtain professional advice before entering such a transaction.
Although vendors must give certain warranties when selling residential property, purchasers should carry out additional investigations to make sure there are no underlying defects or third-party interests that adversely affect the property. A property lawyer will explain your obligations as a vendor and recommend the necessary searches if you are buying.
We manage the entire legal process required for your property transaction including reviewing and negotiating contract terms, flagging potential issues, liaising with lenders and agents, organising searches and enquiries, and arranging settlement. There is a lot to do in a short timeframe and overlooking just one step can have devastating financial and legal consequences.
Buying off the Plan
Buying off the plan involves purchasing a property that has not yet been built. Completion of your home may not take place for two or more years after the contract is signed. Contracts are usually lengthy and contain many conditions and contingencies which may give vendors extra time to finish the project and allowances for variations to design, size, and finishes, subject to permissible limits.
Loan Agreements & Mortgages
To get into the property market, most buyers will need to rely on a bank or building society loan. The loan agreement will usually require you to provide security to your lender in the form of a mortgage. This is essentially a ‘statutory charge’ over your property which secures the repayment of the money loaned. The mortgage is registered on the title to the property and the associated loan contract gives the lender the right to sell the property if you default on the loan.
Obtaining a housing loan and granting a mortgage is a significant financial commitment – for many of us, the largest one we will ever make. It is important to understand your legal rights and responsibilities under the loan contract and mortgage.
Buying & Selling Commercial Property
Commercial property includes retail outlets, office space, industrial buildings, factories, and warehouses. The process of transferring commercial real estate is similar to transferring residential property, however there are certain aspects unique to a commercial property transaction and some additional matters to consider.
Commercial property contracts should correctly identify the vendor and purchaser of the property, which may be one or more individuals, a corporate entity, or trust. There may be a list of fixtures and fittings and other documents that make up the overall transaction, for example, registered unexpired leases which should be reviewed by your lawyer.
When buying commercial property as an investment, the location and permitted use is key to its viability. It is important to obtain reports and make enquires to discover as much about the property as possible, for example, investigating zoning and planning, council and water rates, land tax, and potential contamination issues. The present condition of the building and fixtures must also be considered, and allowance made for any future maintenance. Pest and building reports will help flag any issues.
Our lawyers can advise you regarding the legal aspects of your commercial property transaction, however it may also be prudent to engage an accountant to advise on the financial aspects.
Commercial & Retail Leasing
Leases are commercial arrangements which provide businesses the opportunity to occupy premises for an agreed period of time, in a location suited to their needs.
Leases should be in writing and contain all negotiated terms. The lease agreement, the general law and legislation will govern the rights of the parties. As with all commercial arrangements and subject to some constraints, the parties are free to negotiate the terms which typically include, but are not limited to:
- Area to be leased – including the legal and street description, use of additional facilities or common areas and a plan.
- Term of the lease – including any renewal options and the formal requirements for exercising an option to renew.
- Rent and outgoings – the rent, the rental review method and a list of outgoings payable by the lessee.
- Permitted use – the lease should allow for the lessee’s intended use which should be broad enough to cover current and future business activities. Lessees should also ensure that the necessary Council approvals or licences are obtained.
- Fitout and refurbishment – the lease should specify the permitted fitout of the premises, who is responsible for these costs, whether fixtures may be removed at the end of the lease, and the lessee’s refurbishment obligations.
A retail lease is essentially a commercial lease for premises that fall within the definition of ‘retail’ under specific leasing laws designed to provide greater protection for lessees. These leases are regulated by legislation. Lessors must provide prospective tenants certain disclosure documents, follow specific processes, and ensure that the terms of the retail lease comply with the regulations.
Lease disputes generally arise when the terms of a lease are poorly drafted or ambiguous, or the parties are not advised of their legal obligations. Obtaining independent legal advice can help minimise the potential for costly leasing disputes.
We undertake a range of conveyancing and other property transactions and can help you navigate the legal process and avoid the pitfalls, so your rights are protected every step of the way.