A Buyer’s Guide to Pre-settlement Inspections

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In this guide, I explain what a pre-settlement inspection is, what can be checked at a pre-settlement inspection, who can attend, and when to conduct your pre-settlement inspection.

The purpose of a pre-settlement inspection

A pre-settlement inspection (or final inspection as it’s sometimes known) is an inspection that arises out of Clause 5 of the Joint Form of General Conditions (JFGC), which gives the buyer the right to inspect the property to ensure the seller has complied with their obligations under the contract.

What can be checked at a pre-settlement inspection?

The first and most obvious seller obligations are those which arise under any Working Order clause included in your contract.

In Western Australia, a contract will typically include wording such as “the seller warrants that all gas, electrical and plumbing appliances shall be in working order at settlement”. As a result of that clause, the seller has an obligation to have these things in working order.

The buyer can inspect the property to ensure that all gas, electrical and plumbing appliances or whatever it says in that clause is to be in working order. So, during the inspection, they can turn on the oven, the exhaust fan, the fan in the toilet, flush the toilet, to ensure that all gas, electrical and plumbing appliances, pool filtration equipment and any other item contemplated in that clause, is in working order.

Sometimes a contract will include other clauses that create an obligation on the part of the seller. For example, a seller might agree to paint the bedroom walls, or they might agree to repair a damaged laundry door. So, the buyer is within their rights to check those things to make sure they’re done.

Clause 6 of the JFGC obliges the seller to remove rubbish and personal chattels from the property prior to handing over possession. So, they can’t leave car bodies and tires and junk in the backyard when they leave the property. So, the buyer has a right to go through and check these things and make sure that they are all done.

Clause 6.5 of the JFGC creates an obligation on the seller to hand over all “access devices” to the property. During the pre-settlement inspection, it’s within your rights as a buyer to ask for those access devices and make sure that the keys to the doors are working.

It’s worth noting that clause 6.6 doesn’t create an obligation to supply keys to the windows as technically, they don’t provide access to the property.

The final thing that you can check at a pre-settlement inspection is that the seller has complied with their clause 9F obligation to obligation to ensure that the property is in the same condition as it was immediately prior to the contract date. So, you can check that the walls and gardens are in the same condition as they were when you bought the property.

So, there are other things that you can check in a pre-settlement inspection.

The question is, well, “What happens if you find things that the seller hasn’t fixed up or hasn’t attended to? What happens next?” Well, Clause 5 of the JFGC gives you the right to conduct a further inspection to ensure that the seller has made the repairs and complied with the obligations that were found in the first pre-settlement inspection.

Who can attend a pre-settlement inspection

Clause 5 of the JFGC provides that the Buyer can be accompanied by no more than two other people. The point here is that you can’t have a cast of thousands at the pre-settlement inspection unless the consents to them being present. So, unless you have that consent, you can’t bring a plumber, electrician, architect, and builder. You can only have two, so choose wisely.

When can you conduct the pre-settlement inspection?

The pre-settlement inspection can be completed within five working days of settlement or possession, whichever is the sooner. If you complete your pre-settlement inspection too close to settlement the seller may have insufficient time to complete any repairs identified in the inspection. Somewhere between two and five days from the settlement is a good timeframe.

What if I can’t attend my pre-settlement inspection

We can attend your pre-settlement inspection on your behalf where we’ll check:

  • The existence of any contract conditions that place an obligation on the seller
  • All appliances comply with the contract Working Order clause (if included in the contract)
  • Repairs or renovations have been completed correctly, if applicable
  • Access Devices (keys) are present and work
  • Rubbish and chattel removal has begun or is likely to occur
  • Ensure the property is in the same condition as it was when you bought it. (We compare the property condition with the photos on the internet advertising)


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