Real Estate

Our experienced Real Estate legal team regularly publishes articles and updates - the full list of publications appears below. These publications provide a snapshot of the latest legislation, court cases, policy changes and contentious issues affecting the property and real estate industries. If you'd like to be notified when we add new real estate publications to the site, please go to our subscription page to sign up for email alerts or, alternatively, you can subscribe to our RSS feed.

In our Guide to Investing in Australian Real Estate, Allens' real estate experts identify the primary legal and regulatory issues that overseas investors will face when considering real estate investment opportunities in Australia.

Read about Allens' track record in this dynamic area.

Real Estate Publications

  • Client Update: Planning for the future of South-East Queensland

    25 August 2017

    On 11 August 2017, the State Government released the third statutory regional plan for the South-East Queensland region, titled Shaping SEQ. It is based on the interrelated themes of 'grow, prosper, connect, sustain and live', and is the first regional plan to take effect under the new Queensland Planning Act 2016. Special Counsel Rosanne Meurling looks at the new regional plan.

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  • Client Update: Proposed reforms to staged development applications in NSW

    5 July 2017

    The NSW Government has proposed amendments to planning legislation that aim to provide certainty of outcomes for both developers and the public. Partner Paul Lalich, Senior Associate Dennis Smith and Law Graduate James Higgins report.

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  • Client Update: A new planning regime for Queensland

    3 July 2017

    The Planning Act 2016 commences today, together with the Planning Regulation 2017, various new planning documents and new forms. The Act replaces the Sustainable Planning Act 2009. While there is a lot that has changed under the new regime, the cornerstones of the planning system remain intact. Special Counsel Rosanne Meurling identifies those things that you need to know on day one of the new planning regime.

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  • Client Update: Australia's foreign investment regime - regulatory burden reduced

    3 July 2017

    Significant changes to Australia’s foreign investment regime came into effect on 1 July 2017, intended to address concerns regarding this regime raised since its introduction in December 2015. The amendments reduce the regulatory burden in a number of key ways and will impact a range of foreign investors in Australia. Partner Wendy Rae and Senior Associate Nick Kefalianos report on how these significant changes will affect you.

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  • Client Update: Land tax recovery - no, yes, no again

    15 June 2017

    The Queensland Government is proposing legislation that will restore a prohibition on landlords requiring tenants to pay land tax under commercial leases entered into after 1 January 1992 and before 30 June 2009. This essentially negates the effect of a Supreme Court decision that land tax from 30 June 2010 under such leases was recoverable. However, tenants cannot recover land tax already paid, or resist a court order that has already been made, before the restoration legislation commences. Partner John Beckinsale considers the implications.

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  • Client Update: Australia's foreign investment regime - Budget changes

    23 May 2017

    The Australian Government flagged a number of changes to Australia's foreign investment regime in the 2017 Budget. In a welcome development, the changes seek to simplify an otherwise complex regime and encourage foreign investment in Australia. Partner Wendy Rae and Associate Nick Kefalianos examine the most significant changes.

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  • Focus: Stamp duty and land tax developments - Victoria and Northern Territory

    18 May 2017

    Victoria is proposing to limit its off-the-plan duty concession; extend the scope of its sub-sale duty provisions; and introduce a vacant residential property tax. The Northern Territory is proposing a significant increase in its duty rates affecting large transactions entered into from 1 July 2017. Partner Adrian Chek, Senior Tax Counsel Jennee Chan and Senior Associate Scott Lang look at the proposed legislative amendments.

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  • Focus: Parliament passes diverted profits tax legislation

    31 March 2017

    Legislation to implement a diverted profits tax has passed the Federal Parliament. From 1 July 2017, the tax may potentially apply to the diversion of profits offshore through arrangements between related parties. Targeted at large multinational groups, the diverted profits tax is a fusion of anti-avoidance and transfer pricing rules. Partner Toby Knight and Senior Associate Scott Lang discuss the final form of the legislation and the steps multinational groups should take to prepare for its implementation.

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  • Client Update: Treasury consultation paper flags changes to stapled structures

    28 March 2017

    Stapled structures have been used as an investment platform in the property and infrastructure sectors for decades, and more recently have been deployed into renewable energy, agriculture and other areas. Through the issue of its Taxpayer Alert on stapled structures on 31 January 2017, the ATO indicated that it had serious tax integrity concerns with the proliferation of stapled structures. The Commonwealth Treasury has now revealed that it has also been concerned at the increasing impact of stapled structures on the corporate tax base by releasing a Consultation Paper calling for submissions on potential policy options in relation to stapled structures, the taxation of real property investments and the recharacterisation of trading income. Partner Martin Fry and Senior Associate Igor Golshtein report.

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  • Client Update: Australia's foreign investment approval (FIRB) regime: what you need to know

    15 March 2017

    Australia's foreign investment approval regime is increasingly a major political issue that is often highlighted and discussed in the media. Our foreign investment law experts have summarised the key information you need to know about Australia's FIRB regime.

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  • Client Update: Federal Government addresses uncertainty around Indigenous Land Use Agreements

    17 February 2017

    The Federal Government has moved to provide certainty for those who rely on registered Indigenous Land Use Agreements, following the Full Federal Court's decision that called the legal status of these agreements into question, by introducing amending legislation. Partner Ben Zillmann and Senior Associate Andrea Moffatt look at the key elements.

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  • Client Update: Registering Indigenous Land Use Agreements - it's all or nothing

    6 February 2017

    In McGlade v Native Title Registrar, the Full Federal Court has found that the Native Title Registrar does not have the jurisdiction to register an agreement on the Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreements unless the agreement is signed by all registered native title claimants. This is a significant change from the current legal position and has potentially far reaching consequences not just for future agreements, but will also call into question the validity of many existing agreements. Partner Ben Zillmann and Senior Associate Andrea Moffatt consider the implications of the decision.

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  • Client Update: Value capture for major transport infrastructure projects discussion paper

    17 November 2016

    The Federal Government has released the discussion paper foreshadowed in its Smart Cities Plan about how to use value capture to fund infrastructure projects in Australia. Infrastructure & Transport Sector Leader Leighton O'Brien, Government Sector Leader Paul Kenny, Special Finance Counsel Phillip Cornwell together with Senior Associates Michael Zissis and Nick Beresford-Wylie take a look at the paper and highlight issues for stakeholders to consider when preparing their submissions.

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  • Client Update: Changes to the policy framework for Voluntary Planning Agreements in NSW

    10 November 2016

    The New South Wales Government has released a draft suite of documents aimed at improving the policy framework for Voluntary Planning Agreements. These include a draft Ministerial direction for planning authorities, a draft revised practice note, and a draft planning circular. The new policy is an attempt to encourage greater transparency between developers, councils and communities to produce fair VPAs that deliver infrastructure and other public benefits that relate to the development. Partner Paul Lalich, Planning Special Counsel Marcia Doheny and Lawyer Claire Macdonald consider the new policy framework and its implications.

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  • Client Update: Amendments to Retail Leases Act (NSW)

    9 November 2016

    New legislation has been introduced into the New South Wales Parliament that, if passed, will make significant amendments to a number of the provisions of the existing legislation governing retail shop leases in New South Wales. Partner John Beckinsale and Special Counsel Christine Adamson report on the major changes.

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  • Client Update: Implications for government acquiring agencies under NSW land acquisition reform

    25 October 2016

    The NSW Government has announced its intention to reform the land acquisition process in New South Wales. Partner Paul Lalich, Special Counsel Marcia Doheny and Lawyer Claire Macdonald summarise the key changes.

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  • Focus: Queensland foreign stamp duty surcharge - relief guidelines issued

    3 October 2016

    As we noted previously, an additional 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge (known as Additional Foreign Acquirer Duty or 'AFAD') applies from 1 October when a foreign person acquires residential land in Queensland. The Commissioner has now released important guidelines on the requirements to obtain ex gratia relief from AFAD when there is a 'significant development'. She has also published rulings explaining her views on the circumstances in which a foreign person with no interest or a minority interest in a purchaser might cause that purchaser to be a 'foreign person' potentially subject to AFAD; and what categories of land or buildings in Queensland will be subject to AFAD as 'AFAD residential land'. Partner Adrian Chek and Senior Tax Counsel Marc Johnston report. 

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  • Client Update: Foreign purchaser stamp duty surcharge about to start in Queensland

    20 September 2016

    From 1 October 2016, a stamp duty surcharge of an additional 3 per cent will apply when a foreign person acquires residential land in Queensland. Affected taxpayers should therefore urgently consider whether contracts relating to potentially affected transactions can be exchanged in the next few days. Partner Adrian Chek and Senior Tax Counsel Marc Johnston report.

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  • Focus: NSW imposes stamp duty surcharge on foreign purchasers of residential land

    30 June 2016

    New South Wales has introduced a stamp duty surcharge of 4 per cent for direct and indirect acquisitions of residential land by foreign purchasers, with effect from 21 June 2016. A land tax surcharge of 0.75 per cent will also be imposed on residential land owned by foreign persons, commencing 31 December 2016. Partner Adrian Chek and Associate Jay Prasad report.

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  • Focus: Qld, NSW and Vic impose stamp duty surcharge on foreign purchasers of residential land

    20 June 2016

    Queensland will impose a stamp duty surcharge of 3 per cent on direct and indirect acquisitions of residential land in Queensland by foreign purchasers, with effect from 1 October 2016. A similar stamp duty surcharge has been announced by the New South Wales Government with effect from 21 June 2016. This follows the introduction of a stamp duty surcharge on foreign purchasers by the Victorian Government last year which Victoria proposes to raise to 7 per cent from 1 July 2016. Partner Adrian Chek, Senior Tax Counsel Marc Johnston and Associate Jay Prasad report.

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  • Special Report: Understanding the opportunities and navigating the legal frameworks of distributed ledger technology and blockchain

    17 June 2016

    Authored by a multidisciplinary team from Allens, Blockchain Reaction is designed to assist business stakeholders, decision makers and in-house counsel across a variety of sectors to understand the technology and how it is being used, as well as navigate the regulatory and legal opportunities and challenges.

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  • Unravelled: AMITs are here (at last)

    2 June 2016

    It has taken a while, but out of the dust of an early Federal Budget and double-dissolution election announcement, a new tax attribution regime for 'Attribution Managed Investment Trusts' has emerged relatively intact. While the AMIT regime should generally be welcomed as a positive thing for MITs in terms of certainty and flexibility, it remains to be seen whether it will achieve another of its original aims.

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  • Client Update: Revisions to FIRB Guidance Note 23: clarity for foreign government investors

    26 May 2016

    Recent reforms to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 (Cth) introduced new provisions that deem foreign government investors of the same country to be 'associates' of each other. These provisions have created practical difficulties for foreign government investors who risk unintentionally breaching the Act because they are unaware of the existence and extent of holdings of other foreign government investors from the same country. Revisions to Guidance Note 23 released by the Foreign Investment Review Board have sought to address these practical issues. Partner Wendy Rae and Associate Nicholas Kefalianos review the key changes to the Guidance Note.

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  • Client Update: Are property development agreements subject to stamp duty in Victoria?

    6 May 2016

    The Victorian Supreme Court has ruled that a property development agreement is not subject to duty in Victoria unless it relates to all of the landholdings of a landholder. The decision, which is the first to test the extent to which property development agreements are subject to duty in Victoria under the 'economic entitlement' provisions, will be of great interest to property developers. Partner Adrian Chek and Senior Associate Tom Tian report.

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  • Client Update: Melbourne CBD set for tighter planning controls

    29 April 2016

    Following the introduction of interim built form controls for Melbourne's central business district (CBD) and parts of Southbank in September last year, Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne has announced a proposed amendment to the Melbourne Planning Scheme, which will introduce permanent and stricter built form controls. Partner Chris Schulz, Senior Associate Emily Gerrard and Associate Kate Kirby report.

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  • Focus: Predictive coding: the future of electronic document production?

    25 February 2016

    A recent decision of the English High Court may pave the way for the use of 'predictive coding' in large scale discovery and regulatory investigations in Australia. Partners Nick Rudge and Duncan Travis, Managing Associate Kate Austin and Associate Emily Giblin look at the benefits and risks of the new software.

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  • Client Update: Polluter pays principle in action

    23 February 2016

    In a recent decision of the Victorian Supreme Court, a Melbourne municipal council was held liable to compensate a landowner for the costs that were incurred by the landowner in the course of complying with a clean-up notice issued under the Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic), despite the pollution having occurred prior to the commencement of that Act. Partner Chris Schulz and Associate Kate Kirby discuss the key issues raised in the case.

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  • Client Update: New guidelines for unsolicited proposals for State-owned land in WA

    28 January 2016

    The WA Government has issued its formal guidelines for unsolicited proposals for the sale or lease of State-owned land. By embracing the possibility of unsolicited proposals, as opposed to encumbering every development opportunity with a procurement process, and by expressing a willingness to engage with private sector proponents on an exclusive, non-competitive basis, the WA Government is seeking to encourage the private sector to bring innovative development proposals directly to the State. Partner Andrew Pascoe looks at the new guidelines.

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  • Client Update: Major overhaul of Australia's foreign investment laws: what's new?

    4 December 2015

    The new package of legislation overhauling Australia's foreign investment laws, the first major revision in 40 years, commenced on 1 December 2015. While many features of the previous regime have been retained (and sometimes re-named), there are also a number of significant changes. Partners Jeremy Low, Wendy Rae and Richard Kriedemann and Senior Associate Eve Regnard review the key new elements.

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  • Focus: Plan Melbourne: refresh of Victoria's metropolitan planning strategy

    16 November 2015

    Housing affordability, climate change and energy efficiency are key focuses of the discussion paper recently released by the Victorian Planning Minster, which aims to 'refresh' the current Melbourne Metropolitan Planning strategy, Plan Melbourne. The paper draws upon the detailed report prepared by the Ministerial Advisory Committee chaired by Professor Roz Hansen. Managing Associate Meg Lee and Associate Kate Kirby discuss the key points.

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  • Client Update: Changes to NSW strata title law - greater obligations and opportunities

    10 November 2015

    Two new pieces of legislation relating to strata title law have been passed by both Houses of the NSW Parliament. Although the new legislation, which is expected to commence on 1 July 2016, will impose obligations on developers to provide inspection reports and building bonds it will also open up redevelopment or sale opportunities by introducing a strata renewal process. Partner Paul Lalich and Nicholas Cowie and Senior Associate Sharon Heffernan examine the key changes.

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  • Client Update: Significant amendments to retail shop leases legislation in Queensland

    15 October 2015

    Significant amendments to laws governing retail shop leases in Queensland will be made under new legislation just introduced into the Queensland Parliament. Landlords should carefully review the Bill so they can be prepared for the new regime once it commences. Partner John Beckinsale and Special Counsel Christine Adamson report on the major changes.

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  • Focus: Mixed reactions to changes to new CBD height limits

    6 October 2015

    The Melbourne Planning Scheme has recently been amended to introduce mandatory built form controls to the central business district and Southbank area. Managing Associate Meg Lee and Associate Kate Kirby report on the changes and on the reactions of key stakeholders.

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  • Client Update: Recovery of land tax from commercial tenants in pre-30 June 2009 Queensland leases

    13 August 2015

    A decision of a single judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland has concluded that landlords of pre-30 June 2009 commercial leases in Queensland are entitled to recover land tax from tenants from 30 June 2010, despite earlier legislation which purported to restrict such recovery. Partner John Beckinsale considers the implications of the decision for landlords and tenants of pre-30 June 2009 commercial leases in Queensland.

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  • Paper: New Developer Levies to apply in Victoria

    3 August 2015

    Legislation has been introduced in Victoria to provide for new standard infrastructure levies to fund local infrastructure, such as roads, community centres, kindergartens, maternal and child health facilities, local parks and sporting facilities.

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  • Client Update: Sizing up options for better apartments

    15 May 2015

    Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne has made his views on apartments known through comments to the media and at industry events about small apartments where he can touch the ceiling and where the shower is over the toilet. Mr Wynne has now released a discussion paper on 'better apartments'. Managing Associate Meg Lee examines the key issues raised by the paper.

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  • Focus: Victorian property tax surcharge on foreign purchasers and absentee landowners

    12 May 2015

    The Victorian Government has introduced legislation to impose a 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge on foreign purchasers of residential land and a 0.5 per cent land tax surcharge on 'absentee' owners of both residential and other land. The proposed legislation is very broad and applies to both direct and indirect acquisitions and holdings of land. In addition it applies not only to acquisitions by non-residents, but also to acquisitions by Australian resident companies and trusts that are ultimately controlled by non-residents. Partner Adrian Chek and Senior Associate Jennee Chan report.

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  • Client Update: VCAT advisory opinion outlines limits on recovery of certain landlord outgoings

    7 May 2015

    A recent advisory opinion from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal outlines certain limits on the maintenance, repair and compliance costs that a landlord can recover from tenants under Victorian leases, particularly retail premises leases. Partner John Beckinsale, Special Counsel Christine Adamson and Law Graduate Jo Sampford consider the implications. 

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  • Focus: The low down on tall towers in Melbourne

    17 March 2015

    Recent press reports have made much of Leanne Hodyl's Churchill Fellowship report findings that high-rise apartment towers are being built within Melbourne's Hoddle Grid at four times the maximum densities allowed in cities such as Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo. In the light of this report, Managing Associate Meg Lee sets out some key considerations for developers, city planners and the new Victorian Minister for Planning in ensuring that Melbourne plays its part in providing much-needed housing stock, while also maintaining our much lauded liveability.

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  • Client Update: New energy certificate exemptions for sellers and landlords

    6 March 2015

    From 1 July 2015, sellers and landlords will be able to enter into sales and leases which are the result of unsolicited offers, or which involve only wholly-owned subsidiaries, without the need to first provide a building energy efficiency certificate, following amendments to federal legislation. Partner Alister Fitzgerald reports.

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  • Client Update: Costs decisions of the Queensland P&E Court - the year in review

    29 January 2015

    In the past 12 months there have been a number of important decisions of the Queensland Planning and Environment Court that provide an insight into the application of the court's discretion to award costs. Special Counsel Rosanne Meurling and Senior Associate Michael Zissis discuss the lessons learned from these decisions, as parties increasingly seek to test the court's costs power.

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  • Focus: High Court 'moves' unanimously in defining the scope of consideration for tax purposes

    22 December 2014

    Those involved in property development arrangements or business acquisitions should be aware of the tax implications of the recent High Court decision in Lend Lease Development that has broadened the scope of what forms the 'consideration' for the transfer of dutiable property. The High Court found that various contribution payments and construction covenants made to a vendor under a development agreement between the parties, and not just the purchase price described in the land sale contracts, would be regarded as consideration that 'moved' the transfers of land. Partner Adrian Chek, Senior Associate Jennee Chan and Associate Jay Prasad consider the reasoning adopted by the High Court and its implications.

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  • Focus: Can you make a supply merely by tolerating something?

    8 December 2014

    In an important ruling, the High Court has decided that a purchaser of leased premises will make a supply of the leased premises when, after completion, the purchaser observes its express obligations under the lease. The decision provides much-needed certainty for vendors and purchasers of leased property. However, the implications of the reasoning behind the decision could be more far-reaching than originally thought, with the High Court continuing to take an extremely broad view of the core concept underpinning Australia's GST system as to when an entity makes a 'supply'. Partner Katrina Parkyn and Senior Associate Marc Johnston report on the practical aspects of the case.

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  • Client Update: Extensive amendments to retail shop leases legislation in Qld

    27 November 2014

    New legislation has been introduced into the Queensland Parliament that will make significant amendments to a number of the provisions of the existing legislation governing retail shop leases in Queensland. Partner John Beckinsale and Special Counsel Christine Adamson report on the major changes.

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  • Client Update: Withholding tax on the sale of Australian property by foreign residents

    19 November 2014

    Treasury has released a discussion paper on the proposal to introduce a non-final withholding tax on the disposal of 'taxable Australian property' by foreign residents. Partner Katrina Parkyn looks at some of the key areas of discussion.

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  • Client Update: Queensland property legislation passed (incl 20% deposit)

    10 September 2014

    The Land Sales and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014, which will streamline the sale of property in Queensland, was passed by the Queensland Parliament yesterday. Partner Alister Fitzgerald provides a brief recap of what this means.

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  • Focus: Australian landholder duty: avoid the pitfalls of an ever expanding duty base

    10 September 2014

    An increased focus on taxing indirect real property transfers has seen the 'land-rich' or 'landholder' duty rules expanded significantly over the years, resulting in far more transactions being liable to duty. One area in which the potential application of the expanded landholder duty rules can be easily overlooked (with potentially disastrous consequences) is transactions undertaken by foreign entities that indirectly (through a chain of entities) have Australian 'land' assets. Partner Katrina Parkyn and Senior Associate Jennee Chan report.

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  • Focus: Lend Lease Development - will the High Court be moved on what 'moves' the transfer?

    8 September 2014

    When it comes to assessing duty on land transfers, identifying what constitutes the consideration for the transfer is a key issue. In Lend Lease Development Pty Ltd v Commissioner of State Revenue, the Victorian Court of Appeal decided that certain 'development contributions' made by a purchaser to a vendor did not form part of the consideration that 'moved' the transfer of land to the purchaser. Taxpayers that have relied upon this decision to determine the stamp duty implications of similar arrangements should be aware that case has been appealed to the High Court. Partner Katrina Parkyn, Senior Associate Marc Johnston and Associate Jay Prasad report on the practical aspects of the case and whether it applies more broadly to any arrangement where a taxpayer pays other amounts to a vendor in addition to the price to acquire dutiable property.

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  • Focus: New planning legislation for Queensland's development

    18 August 2014

    The latest component of the Queensland Government's planning reform package has been released. The draft Planning and Development Bill aims to facilitate Queensland's development by balancing economic growth, environmental protection and community wellbeing. Special Counsel Rosanne Meurling and Senior Associate Anna Vella report.

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  • Focus: Queensland Government's state land reform proposals

    25 July 2014

    The Queensland Government plans a major reform of the state land system, to streamline processes, reduce regulation and improve service delivery. Partner John Beckinsale reports on the possible reforms, which are outlined in a recently released discussion paper.

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