It’s essential to do your own checks when buying a new home to avoid legal issues down the track.
BUYING a new home is already a stressful time, so nobody wants the added stress of legal issues with their house.
But many homebuyers find themselves tangled up in costly legal issues that are easy to avoid.
Parke Lawyers managing director Jim Parke said emotion sometimes took over common sense when buying a home.
“This means that important checks such as up-to-date title searches, building inspections, planning reports and council checks are often not given due consideration or are even overlooked.”
He said a lot of buyers didn’t consider that some buildings were illegal, but they often had the power to spoil that new home feeling.
“The presence of illegal structures or buildings is more common than many would think, particularly when it comes to granny flats or self-contained bungalows, even if they are not new,” he said.
“With the rising popularity of renovating for profit, new decks or pool areas may be built without required permits, or attached garages unlawfully converted into living areas and rumpus rooms.”
Mr Parke said being found in breach of building laws could cause a big headache for the owners.
“This can result in the new property owner having to bring the site and structures into compliance, and if this is not possible, then the local council can order the offending structures to be demolished,” he said. “Either way, there are considerable expenses involved.”
He said performing due diligence was essential before buying, because real estate agents and conveyancers weren’t bound to ensure compliance with laws.
He said some common warning signs to look out for were structures too close to fences and boundaries, low-quality work or newer outside areas being annexed to older houses.
He said anything built over common areas where there was common property on a site should raise red flags.
Regulators are often looking out for safety when they enforce building laws.
Mr Parke said non-compliant homes could also have serious insurance issues.
“Obtaining legal assistance during the purchasing process can help address any concerns from purchasers’ research,” he said.
“While conveyancers are very limited in areas they can advise upon, lawyers can assist with all legal issues arising from the purchase or sale of property.
“If a vendor is concerned about compliance, this can often be rectified prior to sale.
“If a purchaser suspects that the structures on site do not match the information in the vendor statement, legal advice can help to identify any hidden traps.
“A small investment in sound legal advice can help to prevent buyers from inheriting these ticking time bombs. Nobody needs more stress or the cost of rectifying building works when buying property. Legal advice is an effective investment to ensure the home ownership experience is a dream, not a nightmare.”