Squatters Lack Consent and Pay the Price

If you have ever viewed that private laneway running behind your land and wondered whether it might be a good place for a new garage/pottery kiln/ smokehouse/shed etc, you would be well advised to think twice.

In a recent Magistrates’ Court decision, a husband and wife were prosecuted for blocking off a laneway which effectively removed one branch of “T” shaped laneway turning it instead into an “L” shape. They built a garage at one end of the section of laneway and erected brick pillars with iron gates at the other end, effectively cordoning off that section.

Not surprisingly, the neighbours were not impressed about having their rear access removed.

The Town Planning Scheme in question has, as do most town planning schemes, exemptions to the requirement for planning approval to be obtained. The culprits argued that the structures blocking the land fell within the exemptions, did not require planning approval and therefore they could not properly be prosecuted.

Under questioning, they admitted that they had not been able to obtain the consent of the owner of the laneway because they could not locate him.

The court held that the scheme did not intend to override the rights of landowners (in this case the owner of the laneway) by permitting developments without the landowner’s consent. It further held that the City in question could not have approved an application for planning approval without the consent of the owner and therefore the Scheme could not do so.

The couple were accordingly convicted and fined over $23,000 (including costs).

For more information on this or any other local government matters please contact Anne Wood on (08) 9321 3755.

The information published on this website is of a general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. Whilst we aim to provide timely, relevant and accurate information, the law may change and circumstances may differ. You should not therefore act in reliance on it without first obtaining specific legal advice.