Australian Government – Office of Township Leasing

Moving From a Housing Precinct to a Whole-of-Township Lease

What is a housing precinct lease?

  • A housing precinct lease is a 40 year lease to the Executive Director of Township Leasing (EDTL) or to the Northern Territory Government over all existing community housing and land identified for new community housing.
  • Housing precinct leases are the minimum tenure required by Government before major housing and infrastructure investment can be made on Indigenous-held land.
  • A lease over community housing ensures that Government has the necessary level of access to and control over land so that new houses can be built, and existing houses can be maintained.It also enables fairer property and tenancy management arrangements to be put in place.
  • Housing precinct leases are only intended to cover existing and future areas of community housing.
  • Communities that have agreed to or already have a housing precinct lease are encouraged to consider a whole-of-township lease.
  • Township leasing is targeted at larger communities where there are reasonable prospects for future growth and development.All Remote Service Delivery priority sites in the NT have been offered township leases.

What is a whole-of-township lease?

  • A whole-of-township lease involves leasing an entire township to the EDTL on behalf of the Australian Government for any period of time between 40 and 99 years.The preferred length of lease is 80 - 99 years, which allows for maximum community benefits.
  • Township leases support economic development and business investment by giving land users the security to invest in fixed assets (buildings) knowing they will be able to manage the asset for a long period of time.This means businesses will be more willing to set up within the township. Lending organisations will be more likely to lend money to these businesses. Increased business activity can mean new jobs and services for the community.
  • Long-term interests in land are created under a township lease so that home ownership and mortgages become possible. Individuals and local organisations can then use equity to obtain loans or pursue business ventures, and Government has the security it needs to invest.
  • The Australian Government negotiates an upfront payment for a whole-of-township lease to cover the period of transition to the new arrangements (first 15 years).From year 16, all rental income from subleases is returned to the land owners, less operating costs.
  • Township leases can be complex and may take some time to negotiate. However, they put the township and its owners in the best position to attract major Government investment, to open the possibility of individual home ownership and to encourage local business ventures to prosper.

How would my community move from a housing precinct lease to a township lease?

If your community is interested in a whole-of-township lease, traditional owners should contact their land council to discuss the benefits and the next steps.

Comparison of housing precinct and whole-of-township leases
  Housing precinct lease
(under s19 of the ALRA)
Whole-of-township leases
(under s19A of the ALRA)
Term Minimum 40 year lease term. Lease term between 40 and 99 years.
Lease holder Lease can be held by Northern Territory Government or the EDTL. Lease held by EDTL.
Boundary Lease must cover all existing housing stock and a sufficient area to accommodate new housing subdivisions. Government will be guided by traditional owners so long as the lease area includes the current township footprint and a sufficient area to accommodate new housing and business subdivisions
Lease Payment No rent is paid for a section 19 housing precinct lease,in recognition of the significant Government investment in housing under this type of lease.However, this lease can include a conditional rent clause so rent can be paid for a housing lease, if a whole-of-township lease is entered into within a certain period. Leases concluded to date have included an upfront lease payment to cover the initial 15 years of the lease.From year 16, traditional owners are entitled to all rental income received by the EDTL for subleases in the township (less operating costs).
Parties Parties may vary, but can include EDTL, Northern Territory Housing, Land Trust, Land Council. EDTL, Land Trust, Land Council.
Progress of Negotiations Four housing precinct leases finalised in Maningrida, Gunbalanya, Galiwinku and Wadeye (effective 40 year term).Further negotiations are in train. Whole-of-township leases finalised in Nguiu (99 years) and the three Groote Eylandt region communities of Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra
(80 years).Further negotiations are in train.3