Strata Series: New Requirements for Advertising and Selling Adaptable Housing Units

As part of the reform of legislation affecting property development in the ACT, increased disclosure requirements have been introduced for adaptable housing dwellings in multi-unit developments, both class A and class B units, whether they are off-the-plan or newly built. These are often referred to as “adaptable housing units”.

Wait, what reforms, you ask? These new adaptable housing advertising requirements are a part of the Unit Titles Legislation Amendment Act 2020. Read our neat summary here.

What is Adaptable Housing?

Adaptable housing is distinguished from ‘accessible housing’, as housing that is not custom designed for people with disabilities but can be adapted to accommodate any extra features as required.

Adaptable housing dwellings are defined as dwellings that comply with AS 4299-1995 (the Standard). There are 3 classes of adaptable housing under the Standard:

  • Class A: all essential and desirable features are incorporated;
  • Class B: All essential and minimum 50% of desirable features incorporated, including all those notated as ‘first priority’; and
  • Class C: All essential features only.

The list of essential and desirable features are listed in Appendix A of AS4299-1995.

Existing planning laws require applications for new Development Approvals to include documentation that a certain number of dwellings within each development must comply with Class C plus the ability to be adapted to meet Class B or Class A for the following residential codes:

  • R13: Secondary residences
  • R23: Residential care accommodation
  • RZ2: Standard Blocks: all dwellings are to be shown as capable of being adapted

For specific numbers of dwellings per m2, refer to the Multi Unit Housing Development Code.

For multi-unit developments exceeding 10 dwellings, existing planning laws require that the application for a new Development Approval shows that the development is designed to meet Class C, and 10% of all dwellings must be certified adaptable.

Details on the requirements for designing, approving and constructing adaptable housing can be found at the ACT Government’s website, including this fact sheet on Adaptable Housing Requirements for Multi Unit Developments.

What are the new requirements?
Adaptable housing units still need to be certified through independent and qualified assessment with reference to a series of features, if they’re required for a Development Approval. These requirements have not changed or become more onerous.

The legislation creates new requirements relating to how adaptable housing units are advertised and how they are sold.

Advertising Adaptable Housing Units
The advertisement of any adaptable housing unit on or after 1 November 2020 must include a statement that the unit is an adaptable housing dwelling that complies with AS 4299-1995.

Failing to advertise adaptable units in compliance with this new requirement is a strict liability offence attracting a penalty, as is incorrect advertising.

The Contract for Sale of Adaptable Housing Units
All Contracts for Sale of adaptable housing units, except those units sold off the plan, must include drawings and plans demonstrating compliance with the AS 4299-1995.

Failing to correctly include these required documents in the Contract for Sale potentially voids the contract, which gives the Buyer reason to lawfully refuse to settle.

What’s next?
It is time to review your Contracts for Sale and advertising to ensure that you comply with these requirements, even if you are selling off-the-plan.

If you have any further questions about these requirements, or how the broader reform may affect you, please do not hesitate to contact us now.