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Who owns “your” Nature Strip?

Your nature strip is the piece of land in front of your property which forms part of the road reserve area. It provides a buffer separating your land from the formed road and is often referred to as “the footpath”. But what are your rights and obligations in regards to your nature strip?

Ownership and Control
Ownership and control of this strip of crown land vests with your Local Council under the Local Government Act 1995 which provides that the Council is to “care for, control and manage public land”. Notwithstanding the fact that the Council has the care and control of the footpath area it is invariably left to the homeowner to look after this strip of Public Land. While Councils will sometimes install a concrete pathway within this area and are responsible for maintaining it, the rest of the nature strip, can be a carefully kept lawn or a jungle, according to the attitude of the owner of the property adjoining it.

Building Structures
Local Councils generally publish lists of permissible “nature strip treatments” which may include planting gardens but many Local Councils have laws preventing you from putting up “structures” without Council permission. Structures are generally considered to include built up box
gardens, retaining walls and handrails. One reasons why the Local Council may be reluctant to allow you to build these structures on your nature strip is that the Local Council may be potentially liable for any injuries sustained by people using or accessing those structures. There may also be “line of sight” considerations for motorists using the road or vehicles existing the adjacent properties.

Driveways
Under the Local Government Act the responsibility to construct and maintain a cross-over (“driveway”) from the homeowner’s land over the nature strip to the curb and to maintain the cross-over in a safe condition, rests with the property owner. Penalties potentially up to a $5,000 fine apply to property owners who construct a driveway without council approval. The Local Council also has the power to require property owners to repair the driveway and to remove a driveway that is no longer being used.

Parking
Parking on or across a driveway (unless you are dropping off or picking up and don’t leave the vehicle) is not permitted. This applies even if the driveway you are parking on or across is your driveway to your property. Road Rules 2014 – Reg 195 states that:

“A driver must not stop on or across a driveway or other way of access for
vehicles travelling to or from adjacent land unless the driver is dropping
off or picking up passengers and does not leave the vehicle unattended and
completes the dropping off or picking up of the passengers and drives on,
as soon as possible and, in any case, within two minutes after stopping. A
driver is deemed to have stopped on or across a driveway or access way if
any part of the vehicle is on or across the driveway or access way.”

This means if you are parked in your own driveway and any part of your
vehicle encroaches past the front boundary of your own land then you are
breaching this regulation and can be fined by the Local Council. You are
also not permitted to park on footpaths or nature strips.

If you want to know more about any Property Law issue or need advice or assistance with a property transaction please contact one of our accredited property law specialists, John Bateman or Michael Battersby on 02 4731 5899 or email property@batemanbattersby.com.au.

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