What having services on your site means for property owners

27 October 2020

Sometimes properties can have services on the site that are not under the control of the owner. Examples of this include power, gas, water, stormwater and sewerage infrastructure. If you purchase a property that has any of these, you may have an actual easement or restriction that applies to the site. 

An easement is on your property title and gives another party, like Queensland Urban Utilities or Energex, the right to access or use a section of your land for a specific reason. When an easement exists on your property you cannot build over it without the written approval of the party who has the rights to the easement. Usually the utility providers will only require access for repairs or maintenance. There is also other legislation that gives utility providers the rights to access their infrastructure and also protect that infrastructure where there is no formal easement present.

There may be circumstances where the infrastructure is not physically on your property but there is an easement that instead serves as a point of access. In that situation you may still face restrictions as to what you can build near to the infrastructure and the limitations vary between utility providers. 

When considering a purchase it is important to check if an easement applies or if there are services on the site so that you go into the acquisition with all the information about the site’s constraints. 

Because of the importance given to access for power, gas, water, stormwater and sewerage services, as the property owner you have a responsibility to respect any easements and legislation applicable to infrastructure. From a legal perspective you have a ‘burdened easement’ and the rights of the party with the ‘benefited easement’ take precedence over any inconveniences experienced by the owner of the burdened easement property. The same applies where infrastructure is not covered by an easement. 

To find out if your property has any easements you can do a title search via the Queensland Government. As per this example title you can clearly see the “easements, encumbrances and interests” listed. A title search costs about $21 and can be purchased online by searching your property’s address. You can also do a Dial Before You Dig search. Note that these searches will only identify public utility services and not private infrastructure such as interallotment drainage.

For help identifying any easements, services and the implications for your development plans, get in touch with us for a no-obligation desktop review via office@consultplanning.com.au or 1300 017 540.