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What happens to my Residential Contract if Australia goes into lockdown?

What happens to my residential contract if Australia goes into lockdown?

COVID-19 could see the Australian Government implement a never before seen lock down of the Country, for an unspecified period of time.

Certain businesses have already been forced to close.  It is unclear whether further restrictions will be put in place, however, the Queensland Law Society is preparing for this eventuality.

REIQ Contracts provide that “time is of the essence” which means failure to comply with a deadline under the Contract will cause that party to be in breach of the Contract.   Standard condition 6.2 of the Contract  deals with a “Suspension of Time” due to a “Delay Event”.  A Delay Event includes a tsunami, flood, cyclone, earthquake, bushfire or other act of nature, riot, civil commotion, war, invasion or a terrorist act or an imminent threat of any of these, or compliance with any lawful direction or order by a Government Agency.

This standard condition does not include a pandemic, but it does include a lawful direction or order by a Government Agency.

What does this mean for my Contract:-

McNamara Law is committed to staying open during the current pandemic and will only close if directed to do so by a Government Agency.

If we are directed to shut down by a Government Agency, or for other reasons you are unable to fulfil your Settlement Obligations due to a Delay Event, your Settlement Date will be automatically suspended for the period of the Delay Event.  This means that you will not be in breach of the Contract for failing to settle on the due date.  However, when you are no longer prevented from performing your Settlement Obligations due to the Delay Event, you must give the other party a notice of that fact promptly.

When the Suspension Period ends, whether or not you have given the other party notice of cessation of the Delay Event, either party may give the other party a Notice to Settle which must state that the Suspension Period has ended and nominate a Settlement Date not less than 5 or more than 10 business days after the date of the Notice to Settle, and that time is again of the essence.

Please note that any other condition under the Contract (such as Building and Pest or Finance) will not be automatically suspended due to the lockdown.  Your Solicitor may need to request an extension of these dates to avoid being in breach of the Contract.

Buyers will likely be unable to engage a contractor to undertake a Building and Pest Inspection during a lockdown and it is unclear whether Banks will suspend lending arrangements during any lockdown.

If you have a conveyance that may be affected, please contact one of our conveyancing staff as soon as possible so we can assist you in these uncertain times.