Land tenure

Leasehold land

What does title mean?

Leasehold land is a land holding that is leased to a person or company by the relevant State (as the Crown). However, it is critical to note that, where applicable, all mineral rights are reserved to the Crown.

A lease of freehold land is not leasehold land, the land remains freehold.

There are different forms of leasehold tenure types across the States. Two thirds of Crown-owned land in northern Australia is under pastoral leasehold.

Generally, under a lease the lessee is granted the right to exclusive occupation of the land. Under a licence, the licensee has a right of access on the land on certain defined conditions.

Leasehold land tenure can typically be summarised as either:

  • Term lease - usually between a 1 to 50 year lease for a specified purpose. Some term leases issued by the Crown have been extended to up to 100 years (eg for significant development)
  • Perpetual lease - a lease in perpetuity may be used only for the purpose for which the lease is issued
  • Freeholding lease - where approval has been granted to convert a lease to freehold and the lessee elects to pay the purchase price in instalments. The freeholding lease is an interim tenure and the freehold title will not be issued until the purchase price, plus any interest, is fully paid.

Who can lease land in Australia?

Both individuals and corporations can lease land in Australia. The underlying freehold title holder continues to own the freehold title in the land.

Leasehold land in Queensland

Approximately 64% of land in Queensland is held in the form of some type of leases issued by the State over State (or Crown) land. Leases are issued over State land for a number of purposes including leases for:

  • pastoral purposes in the northern and western parts of Queensland
  • grazing in more intensively farmed areas from the coastal belt to the centre of the State
  • commercial or industrial purposes
  • large tourism complexes over Queensland islands or prime sites
  • land below high-water mark
  • a sporting organisation or club.

A guide is available to explain the characteristics of current tenures and how they are administered on the Queensland Government website.

In some cases, a lessee may apply to convert the lease to freehold.

Information about the different lease types together with information and guides about converting certain forms of leasehold to freehold title can also be found on the Queensland Government website.

Leasehold land in Western Australia

The Western Australian Government has produced a manual for leasing Crown land under the Land Administration Act 1997 (LAA). The manual details the different types of leases in Western Australia, including pastoral leases, perpetual leases and leases to government, and the process to lease the land. Information about the different lease types can be found on the Department of Land website.