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23 December 2020
Recent amendments to the Settlement Agents Code of Conduct 2016 (WA) (SA Code) bring the fee disclosure requirements in line with those under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). They also provide settlement agents with flexibility in getting paid for unexpected additional work.
The SA Code requires agents to provide clients with a costs disclosure setting out the amount the agent will charge for their services (the service amount), before acting for the client. Prior to the recent amendments to the SA Code, fees imposed by law could not be included in the agent’s service amount. This included the agent's costs in relation to title searches, water enquiries and using Landgate's advice of sale service.
This caused some confusion as the ACL requires a settlement agent to disclose these enquiry fees as part of the agent’s single price for their service.
The amendments to rule 23 of the SA Code align the SA Code with the ACL, making billing more transparent by requiring agents to include enquiry fees in the service amount. The amendments also clarify what other costs must be contained in the service amount including fees for electronic conveyancing services (i.e. PEXA fees).
Other fees imposed on the client by law, or by a third party, can still be set out separately in the cost disclosure. They cannot be included in the service amount as they are not related to the service provided by the agent (e.g. transfer duty or a real estate agent’s commission).
Amendments to rule 24 of the SA Code give agents greater flexibility to recover costs for unexpected additional work they may need to do after the cost disclosure has been given to the client. This includes receiving more than the service amount if:
The amendments also allow an agent to receive an additional amount if the service amount includes a tax, duty, fee, levy or charge imposed on the agent by law, which increases in price after the costs disclosure is given. The agent must inform the client in writing of the increase and any extra amount must be reasonable in the circumstances.
If you have any queries on the fee disclosure requirements, please contact our Contact Centre on 1300 304 054 or email, email@example.com.
Please note our offices will be closed on Friday, 25 December 2020 and will reopen on Monday, 4 January 2021. The following services will be available between Tuesday, 29 December to Thursday, 31 December 2020:
For urgent enquiries during this time, please visit our contact page.
We wish you all a safe and happy holiday.