Jun 11

Beware of Unused Road Reserves

“Four years ago we bought our property that adjoins an unused road reserve that is incorporated into our property as a driveway and had been improved by the previous owner. ¬†This road reserve was “licenced” to the previous owner from D.S.E. and we had to transfer the “licence” to us as part of the property transfer.

More than once the unused road reserve was represented to us as being “ours to do with as we wished as we had a 99 year lease over it”. We were given an impressive looking document that amongst other things states “This is an important document and should be stored in a safe place.”Armed with this document we believed that we had been given some rights over the road reserve, how wrong could we be?

Unfortunately very,very wrong, imagine my surprise to come home for lunch and find a late model sedan sitting in my driveway with a well attired couple of occupants. I said to them “are you a bit lost” to which the driver replied “no we are looking to purchase one of the blocks that is being sold next door and this is the access road”

I replied “I don’t think so Mate, We have a 99 year lease over this road reserve” and we politely parted ways. This chance encounter, along with the offering of blocks for sale on the other side of the road reserve, motivated us to look further into our “licence”. To our amazement we discovered that about the only thing we can do on the road reserve is graze cattle! We cant even plant anything nor “plough the soil” without written consent.

Further the “Licence may be revoked with 3 months notice and the road reserve turned into a road. Admittedly we get a pro-rata refund of our licence fee, Lucky Us! On inspection of the “Licence” Document it was all there in black and white! We were silly not to read the fine print. Let the buyer beware and all that stuff!

I’ve spoken to other property owners in the same boat and found that road reserves had been represented in the same way to them as they had been to us.
I even googled “unused road reserve” and found real estate being marketed with attached unused road reserve with 99 year “LEASE”.¬† We will cop it on the chin and won’t get caught again. Our question though is why are we paying the Government for something we have no control / rights over?

What everyone in this situation needs to remember is you don’t have any control over the road reserve regardless of what you have ben told, you can’t stop anyone from entering the road reserve and it could be made into a road at any time. So read the fine print…

This is of course only my opinion and should not be construed as legal advice. Always seek professional legal advice on any matters mentioned in this post and do your homework – we will next time.





  1. Tom Courtney says:

    Can I have the address as I want to look at it on Google Earth. My neighbour possibly has the same problem coming up with a proposed subdivision.
    I suspect that it can’t become a sealed public road controlled by Council unless Council agrees to it and it is constructed according to road standards. Maybe adjoining land owners can use it for access as a 99 year lease does not prevent other persons from using it.

  2. Alice Christie says:

    Tough Damian. Off course the real estate agent and any developers would know all of this; but what a way for you to find out. Doesn’t this sort of information need to be revealed in a Section 32 prior to sale? It should be.

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