What is a Licensed surveyor?


A Licensed surveyor is currently required to complete an initial qualification in surveying at Curtin university or a reciprocating university. The surveyor is then required to complete a traineeship of a minimum of 2 years with a Licensed Surveyor who holds a current practicing certificate, with this training monitored by the Land Surveyor’s Licensing Board. The Surveyor then must pass final examinations and interviews with the Board. This training which includes practical use of equipment and the study or legislation relating to the transfer of land enables the surveyor to be an expert in surveys affecting certificates of Title to Land in Western Australia.


How do I subdivide land?


Land in Western Australia can only be subdivided by a Licensed Surveyor. There are a number of ways that this can happen. It is important to note that any subdivision creating vacant land will need the approval of the WAPC.


Green title subdivision:


A title to freehold land that has its own street frontage and independent access to all services. It is the closest tenure to complete ownership in Western Australia. The term evolved from the historical practice of colouring the sketch on the certificate of title green. This can be of vacant land or land which has a building or buildings, and needs WAPC approval for subdivision.


Subdivisions under the Strata Titles Act (STA):


Residential Built Strata: (subdivisions where at least one building exists on the land to be subdivided)


Built strata subdivisions where there are less than 6 units are referred to and approved by council. Where there are 6 or more units then the approval of WAPC is required but it is deferred to council to assess.


Built strata subdivisions which include vacant lots as well as any developments that are commercial or considered to be of importance to the State will be assessed by WAPC.


Survey-strata: subdivisions where vacant lots are proposed or some or all of the lots have buildings. Survey-strata subdivisions require WAPC approval.


What is the subdivision process?


For green title and Survey-strata subdivisions an application to subdivide needs to be submitted to WAPC. This requires a plan of the proposed lots with areas and dimensions to be prepared which should also indicate buildings, improvements and services which affect the lot. The application will be referred to the local council and servicing authorities as well as any government authority WAPC feels should have input.


After a 90 day assessment (which may be deferred if additional information is required) an approval subject to conditions or a refusal letter will be issued.


The developer must then meet the conditions which generally require the proposed lots to meet the requirements of the residential design codes as well as ensure the lots have vehicle access and essential services such as sewerage, water and power. Generally smaller developments have 3 years to complete the conditions after which the approval expires and a new application will be needed.


At a suitable time the Licensed Surveyor will mark on the ground the lot boundaries and prepare a plan of subdivision suitable for lodging at Landgate.


As each development condition is completed the surveyor will apply to the respective authority for a certificate stating that the condition has been met.


When all conditions have been met and all certificates received, the Survey plan of subdivision (Survey-strata plan or Deposited Plan) will be lodged at Landgate where it is audited then sent to WAPC for final endorsement. Landgate will then advise that the plan is “In order for dealings”.

 The subdivision process for built strata subdivisions


The most important thing to note is that an application for a built strata scheme to be assessed by council and lodged at Landgate cannot proceed until the building(s) is complete.


The units will be constructed from a Development Approval (DA) and building permit. When all walls are in place the Licensed Surveyor can measure the building positions in relation to the lot boundaries and prepare a Built Strata Plan ready for an application to council.


When the builder has completed all building requirements a Building Act (BA)7 certificate will be sent to council.


For less than 6 residential units a BA15 application to council will be signed by the owners and along with the Strata Plan an application for a council certificate to allow the Strata to proceed to Landgate  (BA16) will be sent to council for assessment. An appropriately certified building surveyor is required to inspect the units and issue a BA18 which will accompany the application.


When council has deemed the constructed units match the DA the BA16 will be issued and the strata plan along with the BA16 and a Form 3 unit entitlements prepared by a Valuer will be lodged at Landgate.


For more than 6 units and for commercial Strata schemes an additional planning approval from council is required using a Form 24 application signed by the owners and a Form 26 will be issued by WAPC but deferred to council.


Once all forms are received from council the Strata Plan and forms are lodged at Landgate and after Landgate auditing new titles can be applied for.


What is the Western Australian Planning Commission?


The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) responds to the strategic direction of government on urban, rural and regional land use planning and land development matters throughout Western Australia.


Unit Entitlements


In a built strata scheme, the unit entitlement of strata lots is calculated to take into account the capital value of buildings on strata lots, as well as the land (whether it is common property or individually owned).


The unit entitlements of survey-strata lots are calculated on the unimproved site value of the lots and ignores the value of any buildings on the lot.


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