Purchasing Rural Property - What you need to know!

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There are many different considerations when purchasing rural property, in comparison to the usual block of land in the suburbs. If you haven’t owned rural property in the past you may not be aware of some of these differences.

Set out below are some additional considerations for you to be aware of before making an offer on that rural property.

Cooling off periods and Rural Property

A cooling off period is a standard expectation when purchasing property, however if you are purchasing a property that exceeds 2.5 hectares (6.2 acres) then the property is considered rural and a cooling off period, under legislation, no longer applies. This means it will be important for you to undertake all of your enquiries before paying any deposit or exchanging Contracts. In undertaking your enquiries you may consider the following unconditional loan approval if you are obtaining a mortgage, legal advice on the Contract, pest and building report on the dwelling, whether relevant approvals for structures have been obtained from local council or other relevant authorities.

Crown Roads

It is important to consider how you gain access to the property you are looking to purchase – do you have direct access to the main road or is it access by a side road? Is the property ‘land-locked’? If you access is via a side road this side road may be a Crown Road. There is currently an undertaking by the NSW Government to close Crown Roads, particularly where they are not required for public access. In this situation where a Crown Road is being closed the affected lot owners are given the opportunity to purchase the area of land to maintain access to the property. This may need to be organised in conjunction with neighbouring land owners. Below is an example of a property that is ‘land-locked’ being the area marked ‘85’ and the method of access is via the orange and orange and black sections. These sections are the Crown Roads.

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The benefit of purchasing the Crown Road relating to the property is that it removes the need for an enclosure permit or ongoing payment of rent for use of the Crown Road and expands the potential uses of the land (as under an Enclosure Permit it can only be used for grazing). It is important to ensure your method of access is secured and you have an understanding of any ongoing costs associated with ownership of the property, aside from the usual rates.

Local Land Service Rates

accessed from https://www.lls.nsw.gov.au/annual-rates

Is the Property over 10 hectares? If so, then Local Land Service Rates may apply. These rates are on top of the normal Council Rates and are specific to the land. As such your conveyancer will undertake enquiries during your matter to ascertain the applicable Local Land Service Rates payable and ensure they are adjusted on settlement. Local Land Service Rates are used to provide services to landowners as insurance against pests and disease and this can include:

  • the coordination of programs to control declared pest animals and insects, including access to baits, traps and chemicals, advice on control methods and assistance in forming groups to tackle pests

  • the provision of animal health services, including animal health and drought feeding advice, diagnosis of flock and herd issues and response to emergency disease outbreaks

  • the administration of stock identification systems, including property identification codes, brands, earmarks and compliance with the National Livestock Identification System

  • the local administration of drought and other natural disaster relief

  • the delivery of agricultural emergency management assistance for drought and other natural disaster relief (bushfires, floods).

Water Access Licences

Is the property connected to town water, tank water, bore water or pumped direct from a river source? This is a question to ask when meeting with an agent regarding purchasing a rural property. If the property is connected to bore water or water is pumped direct from a river source it is important to let your conveyancer know when you meet with them as additional conveyancing work and enquiries will be required in this regard. In these circumstances, it is likely there is a Water Access Licence attached to the property. These licences provide details on: category of water licence, duration of the licence, specific conditions, method of extraction and nominated works. If you proceed to purchase the property then the Water Access Licences will be transferred into your name the same as the ownership of the property so it is to be considered if there are any applicable water fees and charges which would generally be adjusted on settlement by your conveyancer.

For any further advice or legal assistance on this issue, please contact us at Coutts on 1300 268 887