Easements in favour of Council

If you are buying land (or already own land) where the sewer mains intersect the land, you may be wondering whether the council or other water authority can access your land to carry out work on that infrastructure.

If there is no easement or right of access over the property in favour of the local council or water authority, this does not mean that the council or water authority are not entitled to enter your land and carry out work.

Council may rely on its powers under the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) (Act) to access land and carry out works to its infrastructure. Section 59A(1) of the Act provides that a council is “the owner of water supply, sewerage and stormwater drainage installed in or on land by the council (whether or not the land is owned by council)”. Section 59A(2) goes on to provide that council may operate, repair, maintain, remove, extend, connect, disconnect, improve or do any other things that are necessary or appropriate to ensure the infrastructure is used in an efficient manner for the purposes for which it was installed.

These statutory powers exist notwithstanding you may be recorded on the title as the owner of the land free from all other estates and interests that are not recorded on the title. Similarly, if the water supply infrastructure is owned by Sydney Water, then Sydney Water may rely on their own statutory powers under section 37 of the Sydney Water Act 1994 (NSW) to enter land to carry out works to their infrastructure.

In accessing private land, the relevant council or water authority must comply with its requirements under legislation including but not limited to providing notice to the owner or occupier of its entry on to the land. If damage is caused by a person authorised under the legislation to enter the land, then council must pay compensation for the damage.

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