Property and Developments

We provide a full-service property practice to Victorian government departments and agencies on all aspects of property and development matters. This includes:

  • Crown land and roads
  • acquisitions and disposals of land
  • subdivisions and developments
  • leasing and licensing
  • use and development of land
  • stamp duty and other taxes and duties
  • adverse possession applications.

Our team is practical and commercially-minded. We understand how government works – its constraints, objectives, accountability requirements and the underlying legislative frameworks.

We have excellent relationships and connections within government, including within Departments and agencies regularly involved in the approval, structuring and delivery of major property and infrastructure projects, including the:

  • Department of Transport
  • Office of the Surveyor-General Victoria
  • Valuer-General Victoria
  • Victorian Government Land Monitor. 

This enables us to provide practical and effective land tenure structuring advice, resolve queries and achieve outcomes adeptly and efficiently.

We can provide you with prompt and insightful structuring and statutory interpretation-related expert advice, and transactional representation across a full range of areas for property and infrastructure projects.

Our provision of property services to our clients is enhanced through our collaboration with our Land Acquisition, Planning and Environment Team. These teams bring together the expertise of our senior lawyers who deal with property, planning, environment, land assembly, divestment and roads, native title and compulsory acquisition issues for government.

  • We specialise in advising on all aspects of Crown land, including:  

    • reservations, committees of management and trustees
    • leases and licences
    • roads
    • surrender of freehold land to the Crown
    • Crown subdivisions
    • Crown land transactions and legislation
    • due diligence of Crown land status.

    We advise on all aspects of Crown land management arrangements, including:

    • appointment and removal of committees of management and trustees
    • suitable accountability mechanisms for Crown land managers
    • implementing land tenure arrangements for Crown land that comply with the legislative framework
    • facilitating reservation of Crown land
    • revocation of these reservations and advice on the implications of these reservations for proposed land transactions, such as term limits, the range of permitted uses applicable and compliance with Parliamentary scrutiny processes applicable for some reservation types.

    We assist clients with lease and licence negotiations for reserved and unreserved Crown land. We recently prepared the new Crown lease mandated by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

    We assist clients with roads including:

    • facilitating declaration and discontinuance of public roads
    • road deviations
    • land exchanges involving roads
    • tolling of roads and a range of advice about obligation
    • processes applicable to facilitate land assembly arrangements involving roads.

    We also advise on a range of other issues relating to Crown land, including:

    • managing Queen's Caveats for permanent reservations
    • Crown grants in fee simple and leasehold estates for a term of years
    • surrendering land to the Crown
    • facilitating Crown subdivisions.
  • We assist our clients with:

    • full suite of conveyancing services - including on the PEXA platform
    • preliminary agreements - including letters of offer, terms sheets and heads of agreement
    • contracts of sale and Vendor's Statements - including terms contracts and 'off the plan' transactions
    • land due diligence
    • development agreements - including put and call option deeds
    • sale of land through tender and expression of interest campaigns - including evaluating submissions and advising on the merits of departures.

    VGSO is a PEXA subscriber and can complete conveyancing transactions electronically, including facilitating electronic lodgement and registration of documents at Land Use Victoria after settlement. We provide this service to Government in vendor, purchaser, developer and mortgagee capacities.

    We also advise on the efficient structuring of land transactions in light of project objectives and the impact of relevant legislation.

  • We assist our clients with lodging certified plans, including:

    • subdivision or consolidation - including section 35 subdivisions and NICO plans
    • creation, variation and removal of easements
    • plans for the removal of restrictions under the Subdivision Act 1988.

    We work with your land surveyor to achieve these outcomes efficiently through the on-line SPEAR platform.

  • We have extensive leasing and licensing experience acting for Victorian government agencies as landlord, tenant, licensor and licensee. This includes:

    • premises and licensed areas located on freehold and Crown land
    • short and long term tenure arrangements
    • specific purposes such as telecommunications, forests and environmental, retail, toll roads and delivery of infrastructure projects.

    Our expertise also extends to complex agreements for leases, including:

    • renewals
    • extensions
    • variations
    • assignment and surrender of commercial leases
    • subleases
    • skilfully managing the risks and complexities arising for Government in these transactions.

    We can also facilitate registration of leases and mortgage of lease transactions when required. 

    We assist with review and advice on letters of offer, heads of agreement and other preliminary steps, before moving into drafting and negotiation of lease and licence terms (including development, ground, commercial and retail leases).

    We advise on legislation affecting leasing in Victoria including the Retail Leases Act 2003, the Property Law Act 1958 and the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. We have experience drafting investigation licences for due diligence purposes and construction licences, allowing works to commence expeditiously when required to assist the client with meeting its program deadlines.

    In the breach scenario, we can also assist landlord and tenant clients with:

    • issuing or responding to default notices
    • advocacy in mediations and navigating other forms of alternative dispute resolution
    • advice on available remedies and the process for accessing them
    • lease interpretation advice
    • managing applicable common law obligations
  • We can assist you with drafting, negotiation and registration of a wide range of development agreements:

    We collaborate with our colleagues to provide expert planning and environment advice and transactional support.

  • We can advise you on managing taxes and levies effectively in the context of your land transactions, including:

    • GST and Capital Gains Tax
    • land tax
    • GAIC, including drafting, negotiation and registration of WIK agreements
    • Environment Mitigation Levy
    • stamp duty (including accessing available exemptions)
    • fire services and congestion levies.
  • We advise clients making or defending adverse possession applications, including compiling or challenging the necessary evidentiary proofs.  We can assist with advising on the likely success of an application, and the options available to formalise ownership of the land.

    We can also assist with making applications to convert general law (old) land to the Torrens system, which is often part of an adverse possession application.

  • We assist clients with lodgement, withdrawal and removal of caveats through the PEXA system.  We can advise on the nature, validity of asserted caveatable interests, and options for securing the interest in the land.

  • We assist with advising on legislative compliance, including:

Reviewed 05 July 2021

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