• Understanding what it means when your property rights change


    Author: REIWA President Damian Collins

    Buying a property is the biggest investment that Australians make in a lifetime and for most of us, when we purchase a property, we also assume to have acquired certain rights, such as the right to exclusive use, the right to sell, to build a house upon, etc.

    Some property owners can find themselves in situations where the rights to use their property are changed by government policy or legislation. This can be confusing to understand how these changes can impact the value and use of their property.

    The Standing Committee of public administration is currently conducting an inquiry into private property rights and the impact changes can have on property owners.

    There is often a trade-off between the rights of property owners and the community benefit. For example, changes to bush fire ratings or assessment. Bush fire policies are essential to ensure you, your property and your community are reasonably protected against a bushfire. However, this can limit what can be built on some properties and the use to which some properties can be put to.

    Similarly, properties that obtain a heritage listing will have limits placed on the type of renovations and changes that can be made to the property. As we saw with projects such as the redevelopment of the Guilford Hotel, properties that are listed as heritage need to have their proposals reviewed by the Heritage Council who have control over what you can and can’t do.

    Local council zoning is another factor to consider. While in general the community understands that we cannot have unfettered development, the zoning of your property can significantly influence its value. For example, in residential zones, each property generally has an R-code rating which determines the number of dwellings that are allowed on a piece of land based on its size and location. When a properties R-code is changed, the owner may no longer be able to sub-divide or develop multi-unit dwellings and therefore will potentially lose value. However the opposite is also possible, where increases in zoning can increase a properties value.

    The inquiry also provides an opportunity to examine implications of excessive rates of taxation applied to private properties such as stamp duties, land tax, the emergency services levy and Perth Parking Levy. REIWA has been a vocal advocate for the abolishment of stamp duty in exchange for a long term tax reform and welcomes the opportunity to provide industry insight.

    REIWA strongly believes in the owner’s right to use property, and any limitations on land use should only be where there is a clear and substantial community benefit. We will be working closely with industry bodies and the Standing Committee to ensure property owners are consulted about any of these changes as they occur and are adequately compensated for any changes made to the value of their property. 

    For more information about REIWA's advocacy efforts, visit our advocacy page.