Tips for purchasing small rural landholdings

Page last updated: Thursday, 17 May 2018 - 1:46pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Impacts of land use in the area of your proposed property

It is vital to have realistic expectations of rural life and to thoroughly research the use of land surrounding your intended property. Consider the following in your research:

  • Odours, noise, dust and smoke are common outputs of legitimate agricultural and other land management activities — expect to experience their impact.
  • Before you buy, research and consider the potential impact of industries in the area by gaining an understanding of the farming practices that are part of those industries. Visualise how they may affect you and your property.
  • Identify any intensive animal industries, sewerage treatment facilities, processing plants or other high-impact landuses within a several kilometre radius. Get information on prevailing wind directions and assess the likely impact of odours.
  • Understand there are no guarantees that the pleasant pastoral or bushland scenes that might exist today around your potential property will remain in the future.

Be realistic about options for managing amenity impacts.

When you have identified the potential impacts from surrounding land uses, consider whether you could take any action on your own property to lessen the impact. These could include:

  • Planting windbreaks and vegetative buffers, which can often reduce noise, dust, visual impacts, and sometimes odours — but be realistic about what you can achieve and don’t necessarily rely on action from your neighbours.
  • There are not many formal requirements for farmers to minimise the normal impacts arising from legitimate agricultural enterprises they may run. In addition there are few requirements for them to formally notify you of what they intend to do.

How secure are your views?

Many people move to rural areas for the picturesque landscape. Remember:

  • the land you look out on may be owned by someone else who has rights to alter how it is used and how it looks
  • be prepared for your views to change if you live next to a commercial farming enterprise
  • understand the alternative landuses that could be developed on neighbouring land.

Have realistic expectations of travel on rural roads. If you are considering commuting to the city for work, remember, sharing the road in rural areas takes on a whole new meaning:

  • understand the road rules that apply to stock movements and stock grazing alongside roads
  • be prepared for delays at certain times of the year, due to movement of heavy machinery and wide vehicles
  • understand that the onus is on you to give way to livestock
  • road surfaces will vary and can be unpredictable
  • sharp corners might not always be sign-posted and crests of hills can reduce visibility.

Access to road, water, gas, telephone and electricity services

Rural land does not necessarily have all the services (for example, water, power) connected that you might expect:

  • check whether the services you require can be accessed or constructed and the expenses involved
  • also check the distance from the service to your preferred home site — it can be very expensive to run power lines from the main supply to your home
  • make sure your potential property has appropriate access to the road — it could be that an easement will need to be established through someone else’s land, or there may be other local council controls that restrict where your driveway can connect to the road
  • there may be restrictions imposed upon harvesting ground or surface water from the natural environment. A licence to extract water may also be required in these instances and a permit may be required if such extraction involves the creation of a dam in a watercourse.

Be prepared for your land management responsibilities

You will be legally responsible for managing pest plants and animals on your property — be prepared to meet these and other obligations.

Pest control and weed management can be expensive and time-consuming. Your rural neighbours may be able to provide you with advice and assistance regarding pest control.

Do your research before you buy to fully understand the extent of weed and pest infestations and understand that you will have to take responsibility for fire control, including reducing the amount of fuel load around your home, and possibly establishing firebreaks around your boundary.

Care for yourself and legal obligations

In Western Australia, there are laws affecting property management that are important for landholders to be aware of, such as the need to control pest animals, animal welfare, chemical use and weed control.

New landholders also need to manage their property in a way that does not adversely affect commercial agricultural production on neighbouring farms.

For instance, uncontrolled weeds or pest animals can quickly spread and affect pasture and animal production. Domestic dogs that are allowed to wander may kill or maim stock on adjacent properties.

Care for your animals

Many small rural properties run some form of livestock. The range and number varies but a few fundamental issues need to be considered.

You are responsible for the wellbeing and care of your animals. This means you need to take all reasonable actions to ensure their safety and the safety of people coming into contact with them.

Issues you need to consider include animal identification, transportation, fencing, safe handling facilities, as well as the provision of clean fresh water, shelter and of course feed (paddock or supplementary feed).

Care for your land

The Small Landholders in Western Australia page can provide information on how to manage your property to enhance the environment.

This may mean protecting the soil from erosion, improving the native vegetation for biodiversity and maintaining sufficient pasture cover to improve the sustainability of your land. It also involves controlling weeds and pest animals on your land for the care and safety of stock, plants and humans.

Care for your plants

Healthy soils and plants reflect landscape health. Pasture is a common ‘crop’ grown on properties. There are many issues to consider when establishing, maintaining and harvesting pasture.

You may also be interested in controlling pests in orchards or in other traditional crops, such as grains, oilseeds and legumes. Advice is available on our website to help you decide the best plant species and suitable management options for your environment.