5 Legal Key Considerations When Buying a Property with a Pontoon in Queensland

Before you set sail on your property purchase journey, it's crucial to navigate through a few legal considerations that come with such unique features. 

Here are five key factors to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and informed transaction:

1. Lease Arrangements for the Pontoon

When purchasing a property with a pontoon, it's crucial to delve into the details regarding any leases associated with these waterfront amenities. In some councils, ownership of the property automatically includes use of the structure, requiring no further action.However, in other areas, there might be a lease registered for the structure, requiring council approval to transfer it to your name at settlement. This process may involve obtaining specific insurance, which can take time and is not always readily available. 

Therefore, it's important to engage with your conveyancer early in the transaction to initiate thorough inquiries into any existing leases, ensuring a smooth transition of ownership and readiness for any ongoing financial commitments associated with the lease arrangement.

Moreover, beyond the immediate implications for ownership transfer, understanding the terms and conditions of any leases associated with the jetty or pontoon is essential for long-term planning and financial management.  Lease agreements may include maintenance responsibilities, usage rights, and fees. By clarifying these early, buyers can budget for ongoing costs and minimise future financial surprises, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable waterfront property ownership experience.

2. Verifying Council Approval

Verifying council approval for the pontoon is crucial to prevent potential legal complications.

Why Checking Council Approval Matters:

Compliance Assurance: Ordering a council approvals search ensures that the pontoon was constructed in accordance with local regulations, providing assurance of compliance.
Risk Mitigation: Lack of approval could necessitate remedial actions such as seeking retrospective approval or removing the structure entirely, posing financial and logistical challenges.
Cost and Complexity: Failing to address approval issues promptly can lead to significant costs and complications in the future, impacting the property's value and marketability.

Ensuring council approval mitigates risks, enhances property value, and fosters a smoother transaction process for both buyers and sellers.

3. Local Law 17 special condition

If you're buying or selling property on the Gold Coast, specific provisions need attention. Ensure that the contract includes a Local Law 17 special condition, which outlines the applicable regulations for waterfront structures like jetties or pontoons. 

This clause should address various matters, including the responsible party for maintenance, outstanding notices issued by the local government, and prescribed works on the lot. 

When buying or selling property in the Gold Coast, include a Local Law 17 clause in the contract. This should cover:

Application of Section 15 of Local Law 17.
Confirmation of specified prescribed work (e.g., revetment walls, jetties).
Responsibility for maintenance by the owner of connected land.
Disclosure of any outstanding notices related to the specified works.
Failure to include this clause can result in fines for sellers. 

4. Riparian Rights and Access

Riparian rights refer to the legal rights of property owners to access and use water bodies adjacent to their land. When purchasing a property with a pontoon, buyers should clarify their riparian rights regarding access to and use of the waterway. This includes understanding any easements, encumbrances, or restrictions that may affect access to the pontoon, as well as any shared use agreements with neighboring properties. Additionally, buyers should consider any potential impacts of tidal fluctuations, erosion, or other environmental factors on the usability and safety of the pontoon.

5. Due Diligence and Legal Advice

As with any property purchase, conducting thorough due diligence is essential when buying a waterfront property with a jetty or pontoon. Buyers should seek professional legal advice to review all relevant documentation, including contracts of sale, leases, council approvals, and survey reports. An experienced conveyancing solicitor can help identify any potential legal issues or risks associated with the property and ensure that the buyer's interests are protected throughout the transaction process.

At Colwell Conveyancing Group, we understand the complexities of property transactions. Our team of experienced conveyancers specialises in Queensland property law, providing expert guidance and support every step of the way. 
With our knowledge and attention to detail, we'll help you navigate through the legal intricacies, ensuring a secure and hassle-free property purchase.

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