Angry lessee of LVRC land swap blocks speaks out
CHARLOTTE Bull has a warning to those thinking about leasing properties from the LVRC land swap project, saying she was "misled" by the lease.
Mrs Bull said she leased land from the council's voluntary land swap project, which adjoins her property in Postman's Ridge because the two blocks were overgrown and it was a huge risk if it were to catch fire.
"There were also brown snakes and ticks affecting our animals," Mrs Bull said.
After six months of holding the lease, Mrs Bull received a council rate bill for two properties, not one.
"I was told the blocks would be combined - both less than five acres each, and I had to take out insurance for the land before the lease was even finalised," Mrs Bull said.
"I alerted the council employee that I was dealing with that the insurance was in only one address but covered up to 10 acres."
Satisfied with the insurance documents, Mrs Bull finalised the lease.
"Naturally I was under the impression that both blocks were now under the one address, otherwise the lease wouldn't have been finalised," Mrs Bull said.
"A few weeks later, I received a second bill for the new rates as supposedly the previous bill was 'catch-up' rates.
"I now have a bill for over $2600 for two blocks of land that are littered with rubbish and are unsafe for livestock to graze in.
"That's a huge amount of money on top of the lease fee for 8.6 acres of land."
Mrs Bull said the rates were classed as Rural Residential Owner Occupied.
she was also under the impression the council would clear the land so she could put animals onto it.
"At the time of the lease tender I was told the blocks were 'virgin land' - in other words, they were back to their natural state," Mrs Bull said.
"We walked through the 7ft-high grass on the property and found there was rubbish all through it.
"There was concrete, twisted steel, rubbish and giant holes in the ground where foundations for a house used to be.
Mrs Bull said because of this it would be difficult to clear the overgrown blocks, as any machinery was at risk of being severely damaged and any livestock would get injured.
"It's cheap land, we get it ... but I'm paying a huge amount of rates, lease cost and insurance for land that's basically useless," Mrs Bull said.
"Mayor Steve Jones agreed, and he was in the process of helping us to rectify it, but he has unfortunately passed away. I just want people to know what they're getting into."
In response, Lockyer Valley Regional Council CEO Ian Flint said a copy of the proposed lease was provided to Mrs Bull at the time of tendering.
"As per standard practice, the lease agreement states that both rates and insurance are payable by the lessee, with rates to be based on the valuation determined by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines," Mr Flint said.
"The lease for the two lots was forwarded to Ms Bull on May 6, 2015 where she was advised to seek independent legal advice prior to signing the lease.
Mr Flint said in relation to improvements on the land the tender document outlined the land was acquired by council as part of the land swap program.
"The works (including structures) may be permitted with the lessor's (council's) consent.
"The lease also outlines it is the responsibility of the lessee to evaluate the suitability of the land for permitted use - in this case grazing.
"That said, council is sympathetic to Ms Bull's concerns and will facilitate a meeting within the next few weeks in order to reach an amicable agreement between both parties."