If you’ve bought a home using a standard REIWA Offer and Acceptance you’re entitled to complete a pre-settlement inspection.
But your right to complete that inspection has limits, as we explain below.
What is a pre-settlement inspection?
A pre-settlement inspection allows you to check that the seller has complied with their obligations under the contract.
These obligations can arise from special conditions contained in the contract. For example, if the seller has agreed to replace the hotplate then you’re entitled to check that this has been done before settlement.
But they also arise from clause 9.1(f) of the 2018 General Conditions in which the seller warrants that the property will be in the same state and condition it was in prior to entering into the contract.
In other words, you’re entitled to ensure the pool hasn’t turned green, the lawns and gardens haven’t died, and the owner hasn’t removed the carpets and curtains.
What can you check at the pre-settlement inspection?
There’s virtually no limit to what you can check at the pre-settlement inspection but you can only insist on the seller completing repairs that relate to their obligations under the contract.
So there’s little point in flushing the toilet and turning on the lights if your contract doesn’t contain a clause that obliges the seller to have these in working order at settlement. Conversely, if the seller has agreed to repaint the lounge room, you have every right to check this has been completed.
Where your contract includes a good working order clause you’re entitled to check the operation of all fixtures and fittings mentioned in that clause. That might include:
- Check the hot water system is working. Storage systems on vacant properties may need to be restarted prior to the inspection.
- Check the location of any solar booster switches.
- Switch on hot plate, oven and grill.
- Check oven light and fan working.
- Switch on all lights.
- Check power points with a lamp or hair dryer.
- Check reticulation is operational.
- Find out location of the bore (if present) and solenoids.
- Ensure sprinkler heads working.
- Check pool pump working.
- Check pool cleaning equipment (if included) is working.
- Check air conditioning and heating.
- Check and test alarm system.
- Ask the seller or agent to show you how the pool filtration, hot water system, and alarm panel works.
- Check dishwasher working.
- Check exhaust fans and bathroom heat lamps working.
- Check sinks drain properly.
- Request copies of appliance operation manuals.
- Test RCDs and smoke alarms, if mentioned in your contract. Check with seller before testing RCDs as some appliances are sensitive to power surges.
What about rubbish?
Clause 6.1(b)(2) of the 2018 General Conditions requires the seller to remove rubbish, vehicles and their own possessions prior to the Possession Date, usually settlement. But that doesn’t mean that they have to remove the rubbish prior to the pre-settlement inspection. If the property is the seller’s principal residence then they’re required to remove all rubbish prior to 12 noon on the day after settlement.
When can you complete the pre-settlement inspection?
The pre-settlement inspection must be completed within 5 working days prior to settlement or possession, whichever is the earlier. This can become challenging when settling close to Easter or Christmas. If you’re bringing a tradie to check on the work done by the seller it becomes even trickier. Don’t forget, you only get one inspection. If you have two tradies, both need to attend the inspection at the same time. If the seller plays hardball you may not get a second inspection.
How many pre-settlement inspections can you do?
Clause 5.1 of the 2018 General Conditions provides that you can complete one inspection. You’re allowed one further inspection if you identify items that require rectification by the seller.
Who can attend the pre-settlement inspection?
Clause 5.1(c) of the 2018 General Conditions provides that the buyer can be accompanied by 2 persons. Bringing your mum, dad, friends from uni and Uncle Bill isn’t an option unless you get the seller’s approval first. Choose your two advisors wisely.
If you plan your pre-settlement inspection well ahead of time it will become a powerful tool to ensure that you get everything that was promised on the contract. Don’t leave it to the last minute.