In-between marriage counseling and fixing leaky taps, conveyancers occasional find the time to actually settle properties. Have you ever stopped to think just how many things you actually do? Since when did you become the fairy godmother (or father) expected to wave a wand and magically fix everything?  Here in Western Australia the “to do” list is growing by the day and we are seriously looking at upgrading that wand to a huge stick.

We’re all accustomed to the sagely advice offered up by real-estate agents that goes something like “ask your conveyancer”, but it now seems that word has got out that you are the fallback person for just about any half-baked idea going around. Commencing 1 January settling properly in WA requires the electrical safety knowledge of a nuclear reactor technician and the negotiating skills of a UN peacekeeper.

Midway through 2018 it was announced that as of 1 January a minimum of two RCDs protecting all power and lighting circuits will be required to be fitted to new residential properties before transfer of title takes place. This is a great initiative with the potential of saving lives but it’s reliant on the vendor installing the RCD’s, and in the event they forget or didn’t know, the RCD’s need to be retrospectively fitted by the buyer, but at the vendor’s expense. With the onus now on the buyer to make sure the RCD’s are installed it invariably becomes the responsibility of the conveyancer to get this sorted. Ok, it doesn’t say it’s the conveyancer’s responsibility but we all know who’s going to resolve this don’t we? All of a sudden the buyer needs to speak to the vendor, but the conveyancer can’t just hand over the contact details and if the vendor is contactable its likely they don’t care or have moved interstate or abroad which means the buyer gets frustrated, the buyer wants it fixed but they don’t want to pay, which means the conveyancer starts to look for magic wand.

Remind me again why this is my problem? Well it’s not, but you invariably have to manage client expectations and act in their best interest. Amendments to the Electricity Regulations (1947) in Western Australia have seen seller penalties for non-compliance range from $15,000 for an individual to $100,000 for a body corporate. This is where a buyer and seller checklists comes in handy. Whether it’s acting for a buyer or a seller, checklists not only assist you with ticking off those “to do’s” but also helps your clients navigate their ever increasing responsibilities of buying and selling a property.

When acting for sellers be sure to:

  • Include link to Fact Sheets in your correspondence
  • Have seller sign an acknowledgment that you have made them aware
  • Request they provide evidence of the safety certificate, but advise they are not required to!
  • Advise the buyer’s conveyancer that seller does not have to provide evidence and suggest buyers make their own enquiries

And for buyers:

  • Include link to Fact Sheets in your correspondence
  • Tell the buyer that seller is not required to provide evidence of the safety certificate and advise they need to make their own enquiries (e.g. at final inspection).
  • If Building Inspection discloses an issue be sure to raise it with the buyer as well as  the seller’s conveyancer for the purposes of requesting remedial action.
  • Consider Including a  line in the  ‘Authority to Settle’ such as: I/We been made aware of the regulations regarding RCD’s & Smoke Alarms and are satisfied with the current status of the property

So how many conveyancers does it take to change a light bulb? None, not yet anyway!

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