Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

When Brianna Eggleton and her partner bought an off-plan property in 2020, they were excited to start their lives together in a new home.

Little did they know their contract would be drawn under them.

“We had had a Christmas so we had received all these ‘moving in’ gifts, lots of household items, things we need when we move in, so we imagined we were going to stay there in the near future,” he said. she said.

The Canberra couple bought a three-bedroom townhouse in the ‘Debut’ development in Wright.

But the property developer, 3 Property Group, terminated the contract more than a year after their first purchase date.

A sales sign outside a building with a 3 on a flag.
Mrs. Eggleton had purchased an off-plan house through 3 Property Group before the developer terminated the contract.(ABC News: Elizabeth Byrne)

ABC has previously reported that the same developer is terminating contracts after other properties were bought out of the plan in the north of Canberra.

3 Property Group did not respond to ABC’s multiple requests for comment, but told investors that the decline in sales was due to delays and conditions beyond their control.

Attorney General flags are changed to ACT laws

Shane Rattenbury speaks behind a host of media microphones.
ACT MLA Shane Rattenbury says he considers the actions of 3 Property Group to be “convincing”. (ABC News: Jake Evans)

Under current ACT laws, it is not illegal to terminate contracts in a growing market.

But this morning, ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury told ABC, in his view, that 3 Property Group’s actions were “unmanageable” and that he had asked his directorate to immediately look at a change in the laws.

Sir. Rattenbury told ABC that the cancellation clauses were intended to protect investors and buyers by allowing the contract to be canceled if circumstances so require.

He said recent examples of users of the so-called ‘sunset clauses’ by developers were “very worrying” to him.

“I have asked my directorate to immediately look at this section of the law to look at the provisions that exist in NSW and Victoria that diminish circumstances where developers seek to use this to their advantage instead of perhaps the way these clauses has been traditionally used, which has proven to be more mutually beneficial, ”he told ABC.

Sir. Rattenbury said he wanted to protect future investors from experiences like Mrs Eggleton’s.

“There is always potential, as with all contracts, for people to take advantage of another party, and I am focused on mitigating that and ensuring that there is no potential balance of power between a developer and a buyer.”

He added that his office had been made aware of several complaints concerning 3 Property Group.

“In recent months, we have knowledge of a company for which I have received a number of complaints, and it appears to be the only company at this time.”

Many investors across the development claim to have been exploited

Other homebuyers who spoke to ABC, like Sheridan Burnett, had access to the HomeBuilder grant, which is no longer available, to buy her property.

Burnett bought an off-plan apartment from 3 Property Groups Allegro development.

A woman with dark hair wearing a green dress smiles at the camera
Sheridan Burnett and her partner bought into the Allegro complex. Their contract was canceled, but they have not yet received their deposit back and cannot buy a new place.(ABC News: Toby Hunt)

Like Mrs. Eggleton, the property she bought is now on the market for hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the price she bought it for.

“In fact, they never explained to us in detail what approvals they could not get or what prevented them from starting construction work, and I have since found out that they are selling similar properties to ours for $ 150,000 to $ 200,000 more than we paid in February, ”she said.

Burnett has sought legal advice and said she was considering filing a class action lawsuit against the property developers.

“We are considering it very seriously, basically because we feel that if we can share our legal costs with other affected consumers, which I understand there are many of, it will be better for us in the long run,” she said.

ABC made several attempts to contact 3 Property Group about the claims, but has not received a response.

In a letter to investors, seen by ABC, 3 Property Group cited an inability to obtain all necessary approvals for the development before the approval date, delays caused by conditions beyond the client’s control and obstacles beyond the client’s control as reasons for the contracts being terminated .

When previously contacted by ABC about contract termination, 3 Property Group listed forest fires and COVID-19 as factors beyond their control that prevented them from completing their contracts.

While a potential law change has been hailed as good news by some customers, others are desperate to get their money back and find a place to call home.

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