The aim of Local Law 17 (Maintenance of Works in Waterway Areas) 2013 is to provide for the maintenance and repair of works of waterway areas on the Gold Coast and to ensure that prescribed works are maintained by the persons whose land is subject to a waterfront or waterway. This includes repairs and maintenance of the waterway areas in local government areas ensuring that they do not fall into disrepair. The purpose is to protect the waterways and persons who use the waterways and to avoid harm to persons or to the environment.

What is a Waterway for the Purposes of Local Law 17?

Local Law 17 applies to a variety of waterways which are not specifically tidal waterways. Local Law 17 defines a waterway as both tidal and non-tidal, including lakes, artificial waterways, coastal wetland, drains, channels, structures, and other works used to receive, store or transport stormwater. It includes any water more than one metre in depth with a cross sectional of more than 2.5 square metres, that is in the area described by the City Council, specific to the Gold Coast and including State land. Not considered waterways are swimming pools, ornamental ponds under 5,000 square metres, freshwater storage reservoir or domestic water supply, any water storage facility including irrigation and maritime infrastructure.

Prescribed Works and Obligations under Local Law 17

Specified prescribed work under Local Law 17 includes, but is not limited to:

  • revetment walls or training walls that are partially or completely on freehold land;
  • jetties, pontoons or docks attached partially or wholly to freehold land;
  • a bridge, boat ramp or a boat lift partially or completely on or attached to freehold land; and
  • stormwater outlets, pumps and decking that are wholly or partially on or attached to freehold land.

Responsibility for maintenance and repairs is worn by the freehold landowner, tenant, the occupier, or anyone else responsible under relevant law or agreement to which the waterway or the objects of the waterway are partially or wholly connected to. The prescribed person is responsible for prescribed work to keep the waterway in a safe condition and in good working order and repair, including so that the waterway can continue to perform its intended function.

Land Sale Contracts for Waterfront Property

Local Law 17 requires land sale contracts for relevant properties to include a clause stating the following:

  • that section 15 applies to the Contract;
  • the prescribed work that is completely or partly situated on, or which is connected to, the relevant property;
  • that under Local Law 17, a person who is a responsible person for the specified prescribed work is, at that person’s cost, required to maintain and keep the specified prescribed work in:
  • a safe condition; and
  • good working order, repair, and condition so that the prescribed work can continue to perform its intended function; and
  • whether or not there is an outstanding notice issued by the local government under Local Law 17 regarding the actual specified work and, if so, the contents of that notice.

Despite the provisions of Local Law 17, recent amendments to the Property Law Act 1974 (Qld) restrict a buyer’s ability to terminate a contract if there hasn’t been compliance with Local Law 17. Regardless, the seller may still face a fine.

Local Law 17 applies to anyone who is in the local Gold Coast council region and has a waterway in accordance with above. If you are unsure as to whether Local Law 17 applies to you it is recommended that you contact the council, or alternatively seek legal advice.

Salerno Law has a specialist Property Law team that can provide quality and cost-effective legal advice pertaining to all property law matters.

If you have any other queries relating to Local Laws, please do not hesitate to contact us.

By Jemma Heran and Luke McKavanagh.