Grants of leases

The ACT has a leasehold system, the sole form of land tenure.

Length and form of grant

Leases are typically granted for 99 years and land held under a lease is typically held as one undivided parcel. The lessee can make an application to the Environment and Planning Directorate for a further Crown lease at any time during the term of the lease. Further leases can be granted provided neither the Territory nor Commonwealth needs the land. In deciding to grant a further lease, the Environment and Planning Directorate will consider whether such land is required for a public purpose. If so, the further lease would not be granted.

Methods of grant

Leases may be granted by auction, tender, ballot or direct sale. Eligibility to be granted a lease may be restricted. The Environment and Planning Directorate may be required to prepare a planning report in relation to a proposal to grant a lease and must do so if directed by the Minister. Granted leases are lodged with the Registrar-General.

Direct grants

The Environment and Planning Directorate cannot grant a lease by direct grant unless the grant is in accordance with criteria prescribed by regulation and approved by the Executive or in some cases the Minister for Planning. Notice of a direct grant must be given to the Minister, who in turn must provide quarterly reports to the Legislative Assembly.

Use of land

Leased Territory land, or a building or structure on the land, can only be used for a purpose authorised by the lease. Transitional arrangements apply to existing uses provided for in existing leases. Except for rural leases, a lease or further lease granted does not give rights to the use, flow and control of water under the land comprised in the lease.

Where the use of land (or building/structure) involves work that of itself requires a development application then the use will need development approval. If such work is not involved, the lessee is able to use any of the lease authorised uses without development approval.


There are restrictions on dealings in relation to certain leases. These include subletting, assignment, transfer and parting with possession.

Surrender or termination of a lease

A person may surrender a lease or part of a lease at any time with the consent of the Authority. The Environment and Planning Directorate may accept the surrender with or without conditions. The surrender does not necessarily entitle the lessees to a refund or remission of any rent already paid or owing.

If a lease is surrendered or terminated, the Environment and Planning Directorate may authorise the payment of the amount prescribed by regulation to the person who is surrendering the lease or the person whose lease has been terminated.