Disclosure requirements - Bushfire prone areas: Real estate bulletin issue 129 (December 2016)
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In December 2015 the State government released a bushfire reform package in response to planning and building recommendations from the Keelty Report into the Perth Hills bushfire of 2011.
The reforms included the designation of bushfire prone areas throughout Western Australia. If a property is designated bushfire prone, this may trigger the need for a more detailed assessment of the bushfire risk, such as a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment, before building or developing that property. Most importantly, the outcome of a BAL assessment may add to the cost or, in cases of extreme risk, restrict the proposed development of a property.
A bushfire prone area is an area that is subject to, or likely to be subject to, a bushfire attack.
Do I need to disclose if a property is located in a designated bushfire prone area?
Under the Real Estate and Business Agents and Sales Representatives Code of Conduct 2016, real estate agents must make reasonable efforts to obtain all available material facts to a transaction and communicate that information to any person affected by them.
While there is no specific definition of what constitutes a material fact, it should include the information a reasonable person would likely use when deciding whether to proceed with a particular property transaction. It follows that a reasonable person would consider the disclosure of whether a property is in a designated bushfire prone area to be a material fact, given the development implications and potential costs to them.
Consumer Protection is of the view that an agent should check the Map of Bushfire Prone Areas (the Map), the certificate of title and also consider providing prospective buyers with a Property Interest Report (PIR) as means of disclosing a range of potentially relevant issues. This includes whether a property is in a designated bushfire prone area, and what that might mean when building or developing that property. Prospective buyers can also purchase a PIR from Landgate or ask the selling agent to do so.
How do I know if the property is in a bushfire prone area?
You can find out if a property is bushfire prone for free by looking up its address on the Map, which is on the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website. If any part of the property is shaded ‘pink’ then the entire lot is considered to be within a designated bushfire prone area. The Map is currently updated annually in May.
It is important to remember that PIRs include the relevant information as to whether a property is designated as being bushfire prone. Please note that some certificates of title may also include this information.
Where can I go for more information on the bushfire reforms?
Further information about the bushfire planning requirements can be found on the Department of Planning website www.planning.wa.gov.au/bushfire.
Further information on the bushfire building requirements can be found on the Department of Commerce – Building Commission website at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/bushfire.
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