‘Getting away from it all’ is an Australian dream. In our area, getting away from it all often involves buying a rural block. Rural blocks can be productive farmland, a bush block or a combination of both.
The environment is under pressure from our collective lifestyles. All levels of government are pursuing sustainable development to protect our environment for the future.
Whatever your goals as a landowner or manager, you need to be aware of your rights and responsibilities.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council has developed an excellent guide that covers the rights and responsibilities of landholders - the Rural Living Handbook. It recommends prospective purchasers ask themselves a number of questions before deciding on buying a rural property. Yass Valley Council thanks Goulburn Mulwaree Council for allowing us to share this useful resource.
The South East Local Land Services also provides important information about rural living.
Sustainable land management means managing land without damaging ecological processes or reducing biological diversity. It also means caring for the land so your property continues to meet your needs for production and amenity. It requires the maintenance of the following key components of the environment:
- Biodiversity: the variety of species, populations, habitats and ecosystems.
- Ecological integrity: the general health and resilience of natural life-support systems.
- Natural capital: the stock of productive soil, fresh water, forests, clean air, ocean, and other renewable resources.
Land owners or occupiers of land are required under the Biosecurity Act to control any declared priority weed, which may be present on their property.
When buying land
Before signing a contract, prospective purchases should take the following considerations into account:
- Are there priority or other weeds on the land?
- Are weed infestations being effectively managed?
- What are the costs of ongoing weed control? If the land is to used for farming, will weed infestation lead to production losses?
Privacy laws prevent Council from disclosing weed infestation information to prospective buyers without the owner’s consent.
A Biosecurity Direction is a notice issued by a Local Control Authority to an owner/occupier of land that has unmanaged priority weeds growing upon it. A Biosecurity Direction is issued in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2015 if an occupier fails to meet their obligations to control priority weeds as directed by Council.
Before you purchase a property, seek independent advice and/or request certification under Schedule 7 Clause 28 of the Biosecurity Act 2015.
Seek independent advice
Not all properties affected by significant or priority weeds have Biosecurity Directions on them. Unless Council is notified of an existing problem, some properties severely infested with weeds may go undetected for some years and be subsequently sold along with the weed problem. During your initial inspection of the property, you should arrange to have a reputable Weed Control Operator accompany you.
Your solicitor should request a Schedule 7 Clause 28 Certificate (under the Biosecurity Act 2015) from a certified Weeds Officer, which details if there are any weed control notices in force over a particular parcel of land and as to any outstanding expenses payable or any resulting charges on the land.
The small cost of an independent inspection and the certificates may save you thousands of dollars in weed control costs.