Cooling off

In New South Wales, South Australia, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and Victoria, defined classes of purchasers of land are given the opportunity to cool off (for differing lengths of time, depending on the state) and terminate a contract of sale.

There is no cooling off in Tasmania and Western Australia. The amount of time afforded for cooling off varies from two days in South Australia, three days in Victoria and the Northern Territory to five days in New South Wales, ACT and Queensland.

In New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria the cooling-off period begins on the date the contract is signed. In South Australia the cooling-off period begins two days after the provision of the vendor’s disclosure material.

The purchaser is entitled to receive disclosure material relating to the property (often referred to as a vendor’s statement) up to 10 days after contract is signed. This varies between states and care should be taken to ensure that the material is received within the time limits.

See Appendix 1, Table 3: Australian statutory unconscionability provisions.

The class of purchaser with the right to a cooling-off period differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In Victoria, the Sale of Land Act provides a cooling-off period for purchasers of land used for industrial and commercial purposes. Land larger than 20 hectares used primarily for farming is specifically excluded.

The right to cool off does not apply to sales at auction, to parties that have previously entered into a contract for the same land on substantially the same terms and it is only available to the purchaser, not the vendor.

Refer to appendix 1, table 4, Australian statutory ‘cooling-off’ provisions