AgForce is encouraging Queensland’s 1,300 remaining perpetual lessees to weigh up whether to freehold their properties before costs rise at the end of the financial year.
While freeholding can be an expensive exercise – up to 25 per cent of the unimproved land value – it offers advantages such as eliminating annual rental charges, improving financial options, and enhancing buyer interest.
Since 2014, around half of Queensland’s perpetual leases over Crown Land have been converted to freehold.
However, AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the process wasn’t without its challenges and often required landholders to engage specialist assistance.
“Most landholders don’t have the time or expertise to ensure the transaction is in their best interests and generally have to engage specialist assistance similar to that offered free by AgForce to members,” Mr Guerin said.
“For example, Governments may seek to retain ownership of commercial timber species on the property and the right to harvest them, and the treatment of stock routes and other reserves can also be problematic.
“Additionally, lessees may have to pay a fee or engage a surveyor to improve the accuracy of their property mapping, which is why AgForce has negotiated member deals with expert rural surveyors.”
Mr Guerin said the benefits of freeholding had led AgForce to successfully appeal to the State Government to simplify the process and reduce costs in 2014.
“The cost of freeholding is high and often producers have more urgent priorities,” he said.
“AgForce has been working on behalf of landholders for decades to assist leaseholders negotiate the pitfalls of the process and emerge with the best possible arrangement.
“Landholders who are thinking about freeholding can contact their AgForce Regional Manager to discuss their options. This service is completely free to AgForce members.
“We will also be uploading information and resources to our website to assist the general ag community: agforceqld.org.au.”