Squatters, vandalism, anti—social behaviour, derelict, squalid, dangerous and unsightly properties — councils left to deal with the ‘downsides’ of Metropolitan Adelaide’s development ‘boom’.

29 October 2020

As reported in Adelaidenow this morning, a vacant, detached dwelling on Anzac Highway, described as a ‘haven for vandals and squatters’, has been the subject of a serious and suspicious fire.  The property was a failed development site with investors in the process of finding a buyer.

In our experience, this type of situation of vacant properties, particularly on the fringes of the City, being occupied by squatters or otherwise being vandalised, is becoming increasingly commonplace.

The rezoning of land, particularly along prominent transport corridors to allow higher-density development has, in recent times, seen a development ‘boom’ with many sites previously used for detached dwellings, nursing homes, hospitals, shops, educational facilities and other uses, being proposed for development alongside high-density apartment buildings.

However, not all redevelopments go ‘to plan’.  Failed developments are occurring more and more throughout Metropolitan Adelaide, leaving vacant buildings on prominent, easily-accessed sites which then become a ‘magnet’ for squatters and vandals.  This year’s pandemic and resulting economic consequences has only exacerbated this situation.

Councils are receiving increasing numbers of complaints concerning graffiti, anti-social behaviour, squalor, hoarding/junk yard conditions, insanitary conditions and vermin infestations, threats to safety from unsafe structures and/or fire risk.

Resolving complaints can be difficult as owners can be difficult to locate or where located not able to financially achieve what the council requires and owner-companies being deregistered and/or under administration. These types of circumstances make it difficult for councils to take action.

Further, the occupants of development sites often need specialist care and attention and it can be difficult to locate the correct social services and support providers to resolve anti-social behaviour and other matters which are outside of the ability of councils to control.

Fortunately, with the right ‘tools’ and strategies, councils can often take action to ensure that these properties are improved or demolished, as appropriate.

In early 2021,  Kelledy Jones Lawyers will be announcing a comprehensive seminar for council compliance officers, team leaders, governance officers, managers and elected members which will cover the various formal and informal strategies and mechanisms available to ensure that these issues are effectively addressed and resolved.  Our seminar will feature numerous legal topics as well as external, expert guest speakers, to ensure that attendees gain a sophisticated understanding of the relevant legal, social, and welfare aspects of this difficult issue.

We will keep you updated with announcements of the date, time, location and speakers for this ‘must-attend’ seminar.

For more information please contact Victoria Shute on 08 8113 7104 or vshute@kelledyjones.com.au.