Crown leases

A Crown lease is an agreement between the State and a lessee over Crown land and waters which allows for a person or organisation to have exclusive right to occupy that specified portion.

The department is responsible for the release, negotiation of terms and conditions and administration of leases over Crown land, including regular inspections to ensure compliance with lease conditions.

Upon payment of rental in advance, costs and statutory fees and following survey action and other factors, the department prepares the lease document for lodgement with Landgate, for registration against the relevant Crown land title.

Rent is fixed by the department, in consultation with the Valuer-General, and is reviewed regularly. Rent is generally based on current market value unless circumstances determine otherwise. With respect to property leases over public works land (under Section 192 of the Land Administration Act 1997), the department is generally responsible for the maintenance of the buildings on that land.

Type of leases

Leases to Commonwealth, State and local governments

Section 86 of the LAA empowers the State to grant leases to the Commonwealth and its agencies, other State agencies and local governments. Such leases may be private treaty.

Leases to Aboriginal parties

Section 83 of the LAA empowers the Minister for Lands to grant leases for a fixed term or in perpetuity to Aboriginal parties. Recent examples are perpetual leases over living areas.

Leases of reserves

Sections 47 and 48 of the LAA enable the Minister for Lands to lease unmanaged reserves for any term.

Leases under section 47 must be in accordance with the reserve’s purpose and may be mortgaged. Leases under section 48 may be for a purpose different to, but compatible with or ancillary to, the reserve’s purpose and cannot be mortgaged.

Section 46 of the LAA empowers the Minister for Lands to include leasing powers in Management Orders granted over reserves. Under this provision, for example, local government can often lease managed reserves, typically for terms up to 21 years and for purposes consistent with the reserve’s purpose.

Pastoral leases

Pastoral leases are leases over Crown land which gives the lessee the right to graze authorised livestock on the natural vegetation.

View information regarding pastoral leases

General leases

Part 6 of the LAA provides that the Minister may grant leases over any Crown land for any purpose and for any term. This includes light industrial, commercial, residential and primary industry purposes such as market gardens, fishing operations, etc.

Leases may contain conditions allowing options to renew or purchase the freehold title. Leases may be converted to freehold title subject to development being sufficient, planning and land management considerations supporting freehold tenure and the current market price for land being paid.

Leases may be surrendered back to the State. In addition, most leases contain conditions providing for forfeiture of the lease back to the State for non-payment of rent or breach of the lease conditions. A performance bond or bank guarantee may also be established at the start of a lease to ensure compliance with lease conditions or to ensure rehabilitation of the land at the end of the lease term.

In Western Australia, there are over 1321 general leases in place for over 250 purposes.

Conditional purchase leases

Section 80 of the LAA provides for leases to be granted over Crown land for any purpose and for any term, with freehold title issued when development conditions have been met and the purchase price paid. The purchase price may be paid by instalments, as lease rental.

Conditional purchase leases are used primarily in relation to sale of lots in town sites for residential, industrial or commercial purposes, where development conditions must be met prior to freeholding.

The Land Act 1933 scheme for conditional purchase leases over agricultural land has been discontinued. There have been no releases under this scheme since the 1970s, when stocks of Crown land suitable for farming were exhausted. Such leases continue in existence under the LAA’s transitional provisions. There are currently about 55 such leases remaining in WA.
 

Leases over roads

Part 5 of the LAA also allows for the Minister to grant leases over, under or on roads for any compatible purpose, including the construction of subways and bridges, parking or the provision of pipes, cables, transmission lines or other services.

Perpetual leases

Leases granted under the provisions of the War Service Land Settlement Scheme Act 1954 over agricultural land are for a perpetual term. Rent and freehold conversion price are fixed at the time the lease is granted and remain fixed in perpetuity. There are about 413 such leases in existence.

Public works leases

Land and property acquired under Part 9 of the LAA may be leased until such time as they are required for the relevant public work.

Profits à prendre

A profit à prendre is a right granted by a landowner to another person to take produce from the land such as a right of pasture.Under sections 48 and 91 of the LAA, the Minister for Lands may grant profits à prendre over unmanaged reserves and unallocated Crown land.

The Minister may determine the fees and conditions to be applied and may fix or extend the duration of such an agreement. Profits à prendre under the LAA do not include forest produce or minerals.
 

Licences

Under sections 48 and 91 of the LAA, the Minister may grant licences in respect of unmanaged reserves and Crown land in relation to short-term, non-exclusive uses.

Methods of release

The Minister may grant leases by public auction, public tender or private treaty. Agents may also be engaged on commission to lease land on the department’s behalf.

Property in leases

Section 92 provides that any improvements remaining on a lease after the lease terminates becomes the property of the State except where:

  • an option to renew the lease is exercised
  • a new lease is granted to the former lessee
  • the lease is converted to freehold.

Frequently asked questions

How do I get a lease?

Information on land availability for leasing and circumstances under which it might be leased is available from the department.

Submissions for leasing of specific areas of Crown land should be made to the department. If satisfied that the proposal is feasible, the department will initiate a process of consultation, with a series of relevant authorities/stakeholders to determine whether the leasing proposal should proceed, under what terms, conditions, time span and annual rental.

What fees and charges will I pay?

Costs will vary substantially from case to case. Costs may be incurred in relation to the following:

  • document preparation
  • registration of document
  • rental
  • survey
  • future act process under the Native Title Act 1993.
How long will the process take?

Depending on the complexities involved, the time taken to finalise each lease varies considerably with delaying factors including:

  • consultation with a range of planning and management
  • bodies including Government departments and relevant local government and community groups
  • survey and/or plan production
  • negotiations over rental and conditions
  • changes to existing tenures and interests
  • legal complexities
  • statutory requirements of the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993.
Page last reviewed 30 November 2018
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