Home New This Month Penny Erskine, CEO of Conveyancing Matters, explains the process of subdividing land

Penny Erskine, CEO of Conveyancing Matters, explains the process of subdividing land

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Subdividing land has many potential benefits – the land may be built upon or bare, the owner seeking to rent or sell, to redevelop or build or simply divide. Whatever the case, to subdivide is a lengthy and complicated journey.

As with any journey, the experience is defined by three components – the scenery, companions and destination. As this scenery consists largely of countless forms, plans and surveys, it falls to the destination, a successfully subdivided house, and the companions, professional consultants, to make up for this.

Penny Erskine, is a Certified Practising Registered Conveyancer and CEO of Conveyancing Matters, where she has worked for 26 years. She has spoken to SA Real Estate News about the process of subdividing land, and the importance of the companion, an effective conveyancer, in the process.

“The land division process,” says Penny, “is sometimes smooth but often a rocky one. Your surveyor and conveyancer can provide the navigation and assistance you need along that road.” The road in question can be divided into three stretches – planning, surveying and title.

Planning
The planning phase should start with conversations involving the surveyor, conveyancer and any other relevant consultants – the advice provided informing the process.

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“A proposal plan (and possibly a planning report) is prepared,” explains Penny, “and a land division development application is lodged electronically with the Development Assessment Commission (DAC). The DAC refers the application to Council and relevant authorities for assessment.”

These relevant authorities vary, and can involve the environment, the River Murray, main roads, primary industries and others, with the usual constant being SA Water. According to Penny, “Once the relevant authorities have made their reports, the Council assesses the application against the provisions of the Development Plan taking into account the reports from the authorities.”

In the absence of any issues, development approval will be given within three to four months, the final clearances usually requiring conditions to be met, such as payments, physical works or survey plans.

Surveying
Prior to obtaining the all-important title, a Licensed Surveyor must lodge plans at the Lands Titles Office, the necessary surveying process described by Penny: “During the survey process, the surveyor measures the marks and physical occupation of your title and surrounding land titles, then compares those measurements against previous recorded surveys before marking new boundaries on the ground and preparing the final survey plan.”

Completing their mass of surveys, forms and plans, the surveyor will then apply to the DAC for the issue of a ‘land division certificate,’ with which they can proceed to the Lands Titles Office.

Title
While the Lands Titles Office assesses the many documents provided by the surveyor, the conveyancer’s services again become paramount.

“It is vital that your conveyancer be involved in the process at or before this time,” says Penny, “as the issuing of new titles will require documents to be prepared, executed … [and lodged] to effect the deposit of the plan and the issuing of new titles.”

Issues arising during this period are also the domain of the conveyancer, who will handle requirements arising from Community and Torrens Title Divisions, involving such minutia as By-Laws, easements and building requirements. As Penny states, “If you are planning to sell prior to the Division, depositing your conveyancer will be your best friend!!”

At the end of this process, the titles rest in the hands of the landowner or their bank. The companions involved in this process are essential, as Penny attests: ”How smooth the journey was will depend on many factors, but will certainly include the level of services provided by your surveyor and conveyancer.”

Conveyancing Matters provide assistance for every step of the buying and selling process, and beyond, safeguarding against possible pitfalls and delivering the best result for the client. Their services are invaluable, resulting in the most economic outcome and peace of mind for landowners embarking on what may be the most meaningful and exciting investments they make. Their services can be explored here.