Anger over landslide risk

RISK: Landslip areas in Beauty Point, with green signifying Landslip B and pink signifying more serious Landslip A areas. Picture: Mineral Resources Tasmania

A man who bought a property without knowing there was a risk of landslide at the site is calling for greater consumer protection after “throwing away a quarter of a million dollars”.

Graeme Hay said he purchased a property at 50 Flinders Street, Beauty Point, for about $250,000. He then put in a development application to renovate the home, to discover he “couldn’t touch it” due to the risk of landslide.

The property is in a Landslip A area declared by Mineral Resources Tasmania, but Mr Hay did not know that. He said he assumed the real estate agent would be required to inform him of a landslide or similar risk, as is the law in other parts of Australia.

He did not ask the West Tamar Council to assess the property before he purchased it, and Tasmanian law follows caveat emptor or ‘buyer beware’.

That means it is the responsibility of the buyer, not the seller, to uncover potential issues such as landslides.

“We are not property developers, home builders or had any prior experience in landslip or buying a home in Tasmania – we took the stupid approach [of assuming] some form of consumer protection existed in Tasmania,” Mr Hay said.

Mr Hay made a complaint to the Property Agents Board of Tasmania but was unsuccessful.

The Real Estate Institute of Tasmania was unable to comment for legal reasons.

Local Government Association of Tasmania policy director Dion Lester said that LGAT asked the state government last month to review the law around information relating to a property that is for sale.

It is asking for a statewide legal requirement that a property owner commission a council assessment of all relevant information – called a 337 Certificate – before a property is listed.

“LGAT has raised this issue with the Tasmanian Government and we have been informed that the relevant sections within the Department of Justice has commenced work on reviewing the information that should be provided,” he said.

“Recent experiences of some property owners have identified that the current 337 does not ask all [relevant] questions.”

Mr Hay’s comments follow five homeowners whose properties were damaged in a landslide at Deviot seeking compensation from the West Tamar Council and the state government.

Meanwhile, the Meander Valley Council voted on Tuesday to rescind rates for two Blackstone Heights properties affected by landslides.

A report into landslides in the West Tamar municipality is due August 22. The West Tamar Council said it was unable to comment due to an ongoing unrelated legal matter with Mr Hay.

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