Conveyancing & Property Law

Real estate generally concerns one of the largest financial investments a person will ever make. It is therefore important to understand all contracts and agreements when it comes to conveyancing and property law. Whether you are buying your first property, building an investment portfolio, selling the family home, or getting involved in a development project, we can help.

Residential conveyancing

Conveyancing is the process of transferring a legal interest in property from one party to another. The process moves quickly, and several formalities and checks are required to avoid serious financial and legal implications for a buyer or seller.

A written contract must be in place when selling real estate. The contract for sale includes details of the property, vendor, purchaser (once identified), the agreed purchase price and the parties’ respective lawyers/conveyancers.

Vendors must ensure the inclusion and accuracy of a section 32 statement (vendor’s statement). This discloses information about the property that is not always apparent on inspection, for example, zoning information, easements, outgoings, notices of upcoming works or orders, etc. The vendor statement is a legal requirement and helps the buyer make an informed decision as to whether they wish to proceed with the purchase of a property.

Contracts become legally binding once the vendor and purchaser have both signed it and subject to any cooling-off rights, and the purchaser will usually need to pay a deposit of 10% of the purchase price.

The period between exchange and settlement could be between thirty and ninety days, depending on what has been negotiated. During this period your lawyer or conveyancer will liaise with other parties such as lenders, estate agents, and the other side’s lawyers to organise settlement. Additional investigations are often carried out on behalf of the purchaser.

Rates and other recurrent outgoings regarding the property are adjusted between the buyer and seller which are reflected in a settlement statement. On completion, the balance of the purchase price is paid in exchange for the transfer documents and title to the property.

Purchasing a property ‘off the plan’

Buying ‘off the plan’ refers to purchasing property that has not yet been built and/or registered as a separate lot (title) with the government department responsible for land title registrations. An off the plan purchase may not settle for two to three years after negotiations.

Contracts are usually lengthy and contain many conditions and variables such as a series of completion dates providing a buffer to allow developers additional time to finish the project and complete the contract. The sunset date is the final date within which the subdivision and building must be complete. Most off-the-plan contracts also allow for variations in design and finishes subject to permissible limits.

Once the development is completed the plan is registered. This triggers the actual settlement date, which is usually within 14 days, unless otherwise agreed. If this timeframe cannot be met, the purchaser may have to pay penalty interest and be issued with a default notice. To avoid any penalties, purchasers buying property off the plan must ensure their finance provider is prepared to undertake settlement within the stipulated timeframe or request that a longer settlement timeframe be included in the contract.

Retirement village contracts

A retirement village is typically a community-style development offering accommodation options to retirees, generally aged over 55 years. There are many different types, and the legal arrangements vary considerably. Some arrangements provide for outright ownership whereas others are loan-licence or leasing arrangements.

Retirement village operators must provide prospective residents with certain disclosure material before entering a contract. The contract governs the rights and responsibilities of the resident and retirement village. It sets out the occupancy rights, use of common facilities, the services included which may be assisted living or aged care, fee structures including ongoing contributions for management and maintenance, and the relevant exit fees.

If you are considering retirement village options, we recommend obtaining legal and financial advice.


Subdivision is the process of dividing land into separate pieces which makes it easier to develop or sell. Land subdivision is governed by legislation, regulations, planning schemes and policies administered by local councils and other government bodies. It can be a complex process and there are many considerations before commencing the subdivision process. For example:

  • Is there any state legislation or local planning policies that could impact on your proposal for subdivision?
  • Can the proposed new lots of land be appropriately serviced by utilities and other infrastructure?
  • Can the land being subdivided sustain the increased use or development following the subdivision?
  • In what ways, if any, does the subdivision affect existing buildings?

You will need to lodge an application to Land Victoria under Section 22 of the Subdivision Act 1988 if you want to subdivide your property. You will also need to apply for a planning permit from the local council for any developments you intend to undertake during and after the subdivision.

Dealing with local councils and other bodies to ensure planning permits are in place can be complex and time consuming. Retaining experienced professionals to check off due diligence matters, liaise with authorities, prepare technical documents, and explain titling and legal concepts is invaluable during this process.

Commercial leases

Commercial leases set out the terms and conditions through which a business may occupy premises to carry out its operations. A formal lease agreement is essential to ensure the parties’ negotiations are correctly set out and a balance of rights exist between the lessor and lessee. Many lease disputes can be avoided with careful drafting of the agreement to ensure all terms and conditions are clear and complete. Each party to the lease agreement should be independently advised to ensure they understand their legal position and that the terms are suitable for their needs.

Some leases contain options to renew, which can be beneficial for a tenant. Generally, there will be a time limit for the option to be exercised, expressed as a specific date or time period, for instance within three to nine months before the end of the lease term. It is important not to miss the opportunity to exercise the renewal option as the landlord is under no obligation to offer the same renewal terms that were in the original lease.

We have expertise in all conveyancing and property matters and have assisted individuals, investors, businesses, and developers across a range of property related matters.

If you need assistance, contact [email protected] or call 03 9326 1455 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.