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Conveyancing Over Christmas – Cooling Off Period & Critical Dates

11 December 2020

Gill & Lane Solicitors will be closed over the Christmas/New Year Period and will re-open on 11 January 2021. However, our property team will be back in the office (in a limited capacity) from 4 January 2021.

What happens to Contract Critical Dates over the Christmas period?

The standard REIQ Contract Terms and the Terms and Conditions of the ADL Contract carve out the period from 27th December to 31st December (inclusive) as non-business days.

If any critical date under a Contract falls on a “non-business day” then that date moves to the next business day after that period. This means that any due date under a Contract that falls between 27th  December to 31st December 2020 (inclusive) will move to the first business day after that period, which is 4 January 2021.

So, you can relax between Christmas and New Year as your lawyers will not be doing anything (other than cracking a coldie!).

What is a Cooling Off Period and what happens to the Cooling Off Period over the Christmas break?

Contracts for the sale and purchase of residential property have a statutory Cooling Off Period. The Cooling Off Period starts the day the Buyer or its lawyer (whichever comes first) receives a copy of the Contract (signed by both parties) and ends at 5pm on the 5th business day after receipt.

However, there are two (2) types of residential contracts that do not have the benefit of a Cooling Off Period. Those being purchases at an auction (which also includes the signing of a contract within 2 business days of an unsuccessful auction where you were a registered bidder) and if the Buyer has signed a form shortening  of completely removing the benefit of a Cooling Off Period (this is often the case where there are multiple offers for a property).

There is a disconnect between the Contract non-business days in the Christmas break and the Cooling Off Period. This is because the Cooling Off Period is a right that is granted under Queensland statute law (the Property Occupations Act 2014) and is separated and not governed by the Contract terms.

What does this all mean? 

While your Contract critical dates have a snooze between 27th December and 31 December, the Cooling Off Period will continue to run.

If you sign a Contract between Christmas and 1 January you could have up to 3 days of the Cooling Off Period (29th, 30th and 31st December) used up on the Cooling Off Period.

What do you do? 

Really, there is nothing to be done, other than to just be aware. If you have had too much Christmas cheer and regret that decision you made to sign a Contract to buy a house on Boxing Day, then you will need to contact your lawyer no later than 5 January 2021 to terminate under the Cooling Off Period.

Please note that there are financial costs involved in terminating a Contract under the Cooling Off Period and often your lawyer can help minimise these if the Contract is subject to other conditions. That is something you should always ask you lawyer about before deciding to terminate under any Cooling Off Period.

If you have any questions about Cooling Off Periods or Critical Dates over the Christmas period or you would like legal advice regarding the above, then please contact our conveyancing experts at Gill & Lane Solicitors on (07) 3269 8111.

This publication has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in general terms and should be viewed as broad guidance only. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to render advice. No one should rely on the information contained in this publication without first obtaining professional advice relevant to their own specific situation.