Victoria considers prohibitions on rent-to-buy homes and residential vendor finance

Consumer Affairs Victoria is asking for feedback to help shape the laws that control how Victorians buy and sell property.

A new options paper presents a range of possible reforms to modernise and improve Victoria’s 55-year-old Sale of Land Act 1962 (the Act).

“Victoria’s property market is booming, and it’s essential the Sale of Land Act keeps pace with changing times,” Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Simon Cohen said.

“Options have been developed on a range of issues, including practices that pose significant risks for consumers such as rent-to-buy schemes and terms contracts.

“Buying a property is the most significant purchase most people will ever make, and I encourage all Victorians to take part in updating these laws.”

The options paper was shaped by submissions to a wide-ranging issues paper released in 2016.

Submissions revealed rent-to-buy arrangements and terms contracts in residential settings as areas of particular concern that pose significant financial risk for buyers and sellers alike. Concerns were also raised about estate agents amending contracts of sale through the insertion of ‘special conditions’, the potential risks associated with online auctions, and the early release of deposit moneys.

Options on which stakeholders’ views are sought include:

  • prohibiting rent-to-buy arrangements
  • prohibiting terms contracts for non-rural residential sales
  • improving protections for purchasers under land banking schemes
  • clarifying laws around online auctions
  • banning or limiting ANZAC Day auctions
  • reforming provisions around early release of deposit moneys
  • improving pre-sale disclosure requirements for off-the-plan sales
  • increasing the existing deposit cap for off-the-plan sales from 10 per cent to 20 per cent for investors.

Mr Cohen said the review will also help reduce duplication and inconsistencies in the Act, which has been amended 68 times since it was first introduced.

The options paper is the second to be released as part of the Victorian Government’s Consumer Property Law Review. A third options paper, covering reforms to the laws regulating estate agents and conveyancers, is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

To view the Sale of Land Act options paper and make a submission, view the Options Paper 2: Sale of land and business page.

Submissions close on Friday 28 April 2017.