If you are planning to buy real estate in Canberra or purchase crown lease land in the ACT, here’s what you need to know about the process.

Buying property in Canberra and across the ACT is different from other states. Though the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) may be one the smallest mainland states and territories by population, buying property in Canberra or anywhere across the ACT is a whole different ballpark.

Unlike other states and territories, all residential land in the ACT is owned and leased by the Commonwealth under the management of the ACT government, whereby a long-term lease of 99 years is typically granted. Also known as ‘Crown Lease’, when you buy and sell property in the ACT, you buy and sell the remaining term of the 99-year crown leasehold.

A small administrative fee is required to renew leases for another 99 years.

The process of purchasing crown lease land in the ACT

Aside from the 99-year lease technicality, properties are built and owned in the ACT just like anywhere else in Australia.

If you’re planning the purchase crown lease land in the ACT, you should seek a copy of the lease and development conditions from the Territory or land developer. You can also use the ACT Government’s Lease and development conditions register search – Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate – Planning (act.gov.au) for more information on the conditions.

While individual blocks of land may be advertised for sale or ballot earlier, the issuing of leases are dependent on the completion of all the necessary surrounding roads and services. To be the registered proprietor of the lease, borrow money from a financial institution or to start building on the land, you will need to wait until the lease is available and legally granted or transferred to you.

To learn more about the grants, conditions and responsibilities of purchasing crown lease land in the ACT, click here.

Purchasing a vacant block from someone other than ACT’s Suburban Land Agency

In most cases, crown leases in the ACT are issued with provisions requiring the leaseholder to begin and complete development on the land in a stated time. While many buyers may purchase a vacant block from the Suburban Land Agency, there are cases where buyers may have to obtain consent for a second or subsequent transfer of the lease – for example, house and land packages. 


If the required crown lease provisions have not been met (for example, if a dwelling has not yet been constructed and the builder is selling it to you as vacant block) and the lease needs to be transferred, buyers will have to apply to the ACT’s Environment and Planning Directorate (EPD) for consent. Buyers are required to provide supporting documentation with the application evidencing that they have financial capacity to purchase the land and construct a dwelling on it. Forms and documentation required for the transfer request can be found here.

Buying or selling a property in Canberra? Talk to a property conveyancing specialist.

Whether you’re looking to buy your first home or thinking of selling an existing property, it can be exciting and stressful at the same time. From preparing the Contract for Sale, through to exchange and settlement, M Legal’s property solicitor can comprehensively review and advice you throughout the entire process, ensuring that you’re well looked after. 

Where expertise meets transparency, we offer cost-effective fixed fees across our property law and conveyancing services for your complete peace of mind. Personalised to your unique situation, our technical and practical experience provides you with the confidence you need towards a positive outcome. 


To find out more about our property legal advice and conveyancing services, please contact us today by calling 0490 697 090.

For Contracts of Sale entered into after 1 July 2019 (i.e. dated 1 July 2019 and after), new homeowners will pay no stamp duty if:

  • They are over the age of 18;
  • All buyers and their partners have not owned a property in the last 2 years;
  • At least one buyer will reside in the property being purchased for at least 12 months and the period of occupation commences within 12 months of settlement;
  • The total gross income of all buyers and their partners must not be greater than:
  • $160,000 (no dependent children)
  • $163,600 (1 dependent child)
  • $166,600 (2 dependent children)
  • $169,990 (3 dependent children)
  • $173,320 (4 dependent children)
  • $176,650 (5 or more dependent children)
  • All types of properties in the ACT are eligible for this stamp duty exemption if the above criteria is met.
  • The previous First Home Owners Grant is no longer available for transactions entered into from 1 July 2019. If your Contract for Sale is dated before 30 June 2019, please refer to the guideline found at:

https://www.revenue.act.gov.au/home-buyer-assistance/home-buyer-concession-scheme/transactions-entered-into-on-or-before-30-june-2019