HG Alert: Proposal to postpone land valuations and pool fencing obligations in wake of Queensland natural disasters - 16 Feb 2011

Proposal to postpone land valuations and pool fencing obligations in wake of Queensland natural disasters

Premier Anna Bligh has announced some good news for the many Queensland property owners affected by recent flooding and Cyclone Yasi. The Premier has proposed to:

  • postpone the issue of land valuations for three months, with some properties to be revalued during that time; and
  • delay enforcement of the new pool safety laws for landlords for six months.

The proposals are set to be introduced into Parliament this week as part of the proposed Queensland Reconstruction Authority Bill 2011. The Bill is expected to operate retrospectively from 8 January 2011 for a period of six months.

Land valuation reassessments

Late last year, land valuations were undertaken using the new 'site' valuation method under the Land Valuation Act 2010 (Qld). These valuations were due to be declared by 31 March 2011. However, due to the significant damage to many properties around Queensland as a result of flooding and Cyclone Yasi, the State Valuer-General, Neil Bray, has recommended that the release of these valuations be postponed until 30 June 2011.

Many properties will need to be revalued, as valuations conducted late last year may no longer be accurate due to damage caused by the recent natural disasters. Valuers are to inspect properties and use spatial imagery to make valuation adjustments where necessary. They will also consider historical data, such as the effect the 1974 floods had on property valuations.

The Land Valuation Act allows for an owner to request an amended valuation if the land has been permanently damaged as a result of a flood, cyclone or other adverse natural cause (over which the owner has no control), and if the Valuer-General considers that the damage has changed the land's value.

The move to reassess some valuations may minimise the number of these claims. However, owners who are thinking about making a claim must bear in mind that they have only six months from the date the permanent damage occurred to do so. If the new valuations come out in June 2011, there may be only a small window of opportunity for owners to prepare their submission (based on damage incurred in January 2011), and owners should be mindful of this timeframe.

As the land valuation issued by the Valuer-General is used by Councils to calculate rates and the State Government to calculate land tax, owners should pay careful attention to the valuations received in the coming months.

Pool safety requirements

Changes were introduced to the Building Act 1975 (Qld) by the Building and Other Legislation Amendment Act (No. 2) 2010 on 1 December 2010. Owners of properties in Queensland with pools are now required to meet minimum safety requirements, and comply with disclosure requirements.

For rental properties with a non-shared pool, owners are required to have a valid pool safety certificate before a rental agreement is entered into. With an increased demand for rental properties as a result of the recent natural disasters, there has been concern that this requirement may affect the availability of rental properties. The proposed six month reprieve is intended to allow additional housing stock to become available for immediate occupation by people who have been displaced from their own homes.

It is expected that the proposed Bill will allow owners to rent their properties without a valid pool safety certificate if they first provide the tenant with a notice advising that the pool may not comply with pool safety laws, and may pose a risk to young children.

Further details about the issue of land valuations and the six month amnesty for pool safety certificates for rental premises will be known once the Bill is introduced into Parliament later this week.

For more information about the Land Valuation Act or the new pool fencing requirements, please contact HopgoodGanim's Commercial Property team.