Landholders Encouraged to Convert to Freehold Title

The security of land tenure in rural Australia is often on the mind of pastoralists. With the introduction of rolling term and perpetual leases, pastoralists were given greater security over their interest in the land. There have been further developments that give leaseholders the opportunity to have their interests converted to freehold title so that rural landholders can enjoy the most secure interest available to property owners.

Leasehold conversion is offered by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (“DNRM”). Landowners can apply to DNRM for the conversion of their leasehold interests to freehold title. DNRM can then make an offer to the landowner often called an “Agreement to Offer a Conversion of a Lease” (“Offer”). These Offers are usually conditional which means that certain requirements must be satisfied before the conversion of land tenure will occur. Conditions will most likely include: payment of a deposit, signing of the Offer and satisfaction of any Native Title interests that may exist in relation to the land subject to the conversion.

Upon receiving an application for conversion, DNRM will research the tenure history of the land. If the land has never been held with exclusive possession, such as a previous freehold title, Native Title will need to be addressed as a condition to the conversion being made. This is a common requirement in rural pastoral areas where exclusive possession has not previously been granted.

Native Title interests can be addressed in a number of ways. These include: negotiating an agreement called an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (“ILUA”) with peoples that may hold an interest to the area, or by non-claimant applications to the Federal Court for a determination (decision) in regard to the native title interests in the area.

Once the conditions of the Offer have been satisfied, DNRM can then grant the conversion of leasehold interests to a freehold title.

Creevey Russell Lawyers have an experienced team that can assist you in the intricacies of these conversion applications. If you would like to discuss the conversion of leasehold interests, contact our Damian Bell on (07) 4617 8777.