The Office of Regulatory Services has released a reminder to ACT real estate agents on their duties of disclosure in relation to stigmatised property – that is, any property with a stigma attached to it.
There is no set list of what a stigma is, but it applies to anything that could affect the value of the property. Examples given by the ORS include:
- — The history of the property, such as if gruesome murders or suicide occurred there.
— Health and safety issues such as proximity to toxic waste or chemical residue.
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— Proximity to other properties with a history or to unsound or violent neighbours.
— Any other matter that is so clearly relevant to buyers they cannot be expected to be ignored.
ACT real estate agents have a duty under the Agents Regulation 2003 and the Australian Consumer Law 2010 to tell buyers of any such stigmas and act honestly, fairly and professionally.
Agents face criminal penalties up to $1,100,00 for misleading or deceptive conduct and can lose their licence to be an agent in the ACT.
This means prospective real estate buyers can expect their agents to tell them of anything about the property that could change your willingness to buy it.
In 2006 in the NSW case of Hinton & Others v Commissioner for Fair Trading, the two owners of the house and their daughter were murdered in the house by their son.
The agent knew this had to be dealt with in advertising the house, but decided to say the house was a “deceased estate” whose beneficiaries did not want. When the buyers found out they were released from the contract and the agent forced to pay penalties.
So, although we hope you never find yourself being misled by a trusted real estate agent, these changes are important to note so you know where you stand the next time you buy a house.
[Photo taken from our story on the ghost zoo]