Undaunted by calls for a moratorium on ill-considered regulation, the government has pulled even tighter on the net in which it has the Queensland real estate industry entangled – with April changes to the BCCM Act rolling on and more PAMDA amendments only one month away.

\Echoing the BCCMA alarm we raised in our April 20 post, the Queensland Law Society last week warned members on the liability risks that the new legislation dumps in the laps of real estate agents and lawyers if they are responsible for a unit contract that misdescribes “the extent” of levy calculations.

In a special email alert, all law firms were cautioned that they must take extraordinary measures to ensure that the “extent” of and divergence from “interest schedule” and “contribution schedule” entitlements are always expressed as either a dollar amount or proportion.

Thus the resulting disruption has gained another dimension.

Disregarding the other divergences raised in previous posts that might also have to be accounted for by disclosure – compliant  statements must now, at a minimum, differentiate between administrative fund contributions, sinking fund contributions and – for the first time – insurance fund contributions.

This is something that even professional body corporate managers are yet to begin to do.

And the QLS now urges solicitors not to rely on information provided by body corporate managers. Instead, lawyers “will need to obtain a copy of the current body corporate budget either from the client or by carrying out an inspection of the body corporate’s records” and then they must calculate and verify the proportions themselves!

Can you imagine sellers authorising solicitors to incur this expense? Even if accurate data exists in the budget, do they really think such calculations will always be correct? What will be the financial and personal cost of the uncertainty and disputation that such foolish regulation creates?

The QLS has added its weight behind calls to clarify the jumble. It has made a submission to merge the form 14 warning statement with the 206 disclosure. But clearly more must be done.

Government must learn that it cannot take shortcuts on consumer protection by transferring the burden to the agents of consumers the scheme is designed to protect – something that is all the more offensive when you consider that doing so gives impunity to the few shonks that might be responsible for any rorts in the first place. Make them pay – not the industry.

But the net gets even tighter: in July PAMDA and all its forms will be replaced! Yes – the warning statement won’t be a Form 30C, all forms will likely change numbering, all section numbers will change and most precedents, forms etc will need to be replaced when the Property Agent’s Bill becomes law.

Once again agents and lawyers will have to trawl through a new law to search for consistency and lack of it. More papers, articles, advice, seminars, cost and expense. This could all have been achieved in the last round of changes in October.

When will the madness end?


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