Property Wars: Is anything missing and if so, what?

Documents in property transactions are not overly complicated or sophisticated. Normally they can be read and understood by anyone patient enough to plough through them. In many cases however, understanding what is there is only half the challenge – you also need to know what should be there but isn’t.

Recently a prospective client contacted a lawyer just before putting in an offer to buy one of four apartments in an older building. The owners corporation certificate in the vendor’s section 32 statement included a vague reference to some roof repairs being required but was otherwise unexceptional.

The lawyer recognized the potential risk – each apartment would bear a quarter of the cost of any repairs – and also realized that a copy of the minutes of the last owners corporation meeting was missing from the certificate. Possibly it would provide details of the extent of the required repairs and the potential cost.

On the lawyer’s advice, the client went back to the selling agent requesting a copy of the minutes. The agent did not return calls. Make of that what you will.