About the Retaining Shacks project

Applying for longer tenure

Making upgrades

Receiving an offer of longer tenure

Specific questions about shacks on Crown land

Specific questions about shacks in national parks

About the Retaining Shacks project

Which shacks does the Retaining Shacks commitment apply to?

The Retaining Shacks commitment applies to shacks located on Crown land or in national parks that are on life-tenure or fixed-term tenure leases for ‘holiday accommodation purposes’ where there is no existing arrangement for the long-term tenure for those sites.

It does not apply to shack sites that have already been granted a freeholding deed from a previous assessment or freehold title and may have requirements arising under a Land Management Agreement.

It does not apply retrospectively to leases that have been terminated or shacks that have already been demolished.

What progress has been made since the commitment was announced?

Since the SA Government announced the Retaining Shacks commitment in April 2018:

  • A moratorium was placed on the practise of automatically terminating existing Crown land and national park leases when the last person named on the lease died, while the new policy direction was determined.
  • Consultation was undertaken with key stakeholders such as shack owners’ associations, local councils, government agencies and other relevant organisations
  • Feedback was sought on a Preliminary Discussion Paper, which outlined the work undertaken to progress the commitment, the legal barriers that needed to be addressed, the regulatory requirements that needed to be complied with, and the contemporary standards that needed to be met. Legal barriers have been addressed, namely amending the Crown Land Management Act 2009, to formally allow longer tenure for shack leases on Crown land.
  • Amendments were made to relevant park management plans to allow shacks to be manage under lease conditions in national parks.
  • Valuations were undertaken for shack sites within the scope of this project.
  • All eligible lessees with shacks on Crown land or in national parks were invited to apply for longer tenure.
  • Five-year interim leases and long-term leases have begun to be issued to successful applicants with shacks on Crown land.

Applying for longer tenure

Is it compulsory to apply for longer tenure?

There is no obligation to apply for longer tenure – it is voluntary.

Lessees who do not wish to apply for longer tenure can remain on their current life-tenure shack arrangement. This means the existing lease conditions will continue to apply.

Names on life tenure leases cannot be changed, so when the last remaining lessee dies, the lease expires and all site improvements, such as buildings, must be removed.

Note: Applications for longer tenure for Crown land and national park shacks are now closed.

Can I add or change names on the lease?

If you are successful in gaining a five-year interim lease or a longer term lease, you can change, add or remove names on the lease. This can be done either during the application process or at a later date, such as after longer tenure has been granted.

Unlike life tenure leases, new lease agreements are transferable. A transfer application must be submitted for assessment by DEW.

What if there are disputes between people named on the current lease?

All current shack lessees must agree and sign the application form document before an application can progress. Only one application will be accepted per site.

Any civil disputes between parties about shack leases must be resolved privately. DEW is unable to intervene, mediate, or provide legal advice.

Once I apply for longer tenure is my old lease no longer valid?

Your current life tenure lease remains valid throughout the application assessment process, up to the point that it is formally surrendered when a new signed lease agreement is registered by Land Services SA.

If I missed the deadline to apply for longer tenure for my Crown land shack, can I still apply?

DEW is seeking advice on this matter, but it is unlikely to be resolved before mid-2022.

Until a decision is made, priority will be given to processing applications that were submitted by the specified application deadlines.

What happens if I change my mind during the application process?

If you submit an application and then change your mind before your life tenure lease is surrendered, your application can be withdrawn.

It is only when a new lease agreement has been signed by all parties and registered through Land Services SA that the existing life tenure lease is surrendered.

Once the life tenure lease is surrendered it cannot be re-issued.

What happens if a current lessee dies while an application for longer tenure is pending?

If a current lessee dies while their application is in progress, and before the current lease can be formally surrendered, a conveyancer/solicitor will need to verify the certified death certificate as part of the verification of identity process to finalise the application.

Where can I get assistance with specific questions about my application?

If you have a question about your application, it might be answered in one of these resources:

If you have read this information and still require further assistance, contact the DEW Shacks Team.

How long does the assessment process take?

The timeframe for assessing applications varies depending on each application and the documentation provided.

All applications are assessed in a consistent manner and in accordance with the relevant Act or park management plans.

Given that there has been a significant uptake in lessees seeking longer tenure, DEW has received a large volume of applications. We can assure you that we are working through these applications as quickly as possible.

As soon as an assessment is complete, the applicant will be advised of the outcome and next steps.

What action can I take until my application is assessed?

While your application for longer tenure is underway, you must continue to comply with the conditions of your current lease, including maintaining your shack and surrounding areas and paying invoiced rent fees.

Where the shack is in a shack settlement, you are encouraged to work with the shack owners’ association (if one exists), other lessees, the local council and relevant agencies to understand what may need to be done to meet the relevant standards.

Why are some assessments delayed?

In some cases where applications are missing necessary information, the assessment process is paused until applicants provide further information that is requested of them.

Some applications are more complicated than others, such as those that include encroachments, native title considerations, deceased estates, limited wastewater options, coastal hazard protection, and development applications. These applications may take significantly longer to assess, particularly if advice needs to be sought from other agencies.

If there are civil disputes between parties involved in the lease, the application will be placed on hold and will not be processed until the dispute is resolved by the parties. For further information, see: What if there are disputes between people named on the current lease?

Making upgrades

Why do I need to upgrade my shack site?

The Retaining Shacks commitment provides opportunities for families to keep their Crown land or national park shacks in return for meeting contemporary living standards.

These standards related to maintaining public access to waterfront Crown land, installing appropriate wastewater systems, defining appropriate boundaries for the type of tenure, resolving encroachments and complying with native title legislation and Indigenous Land Use Agreements.

You need to have completed any upgrades necessary for your site to comply with contemporary standards in order to be offered longer tenure.

How do I know what upgrades need to be made?

When you apply for longer tenure, if you are successful you will either be offered a 5-year interim lease, an immediate long-term lease (of 50 years for Crown land shacks or 30 years for national park shacks), or freeholding, if applicable at your site.

  • If you are offered an interim 5-year lease, this is because your site has been identified as required upgrades to bring it up to contemporary standards and be eligible for a long-term lease. Your 5-year interim lease agreement will outline the upgrades that you will need to undertake and will reference that once these have been complete, you will be granted a long-term lease.
  • If you are offered an immediate long-term lease or freeholding, it is because your site already meets the required standards to be granted the longer tenure and there are no further upgrades required.

How long do I have to meet all the conditions outlined for my shack?

You must meet all the conditions outlined in your lease agreement (that is, making the required upgrades) and provide evidence to DEW of having done so within the duration of your interim 5-year lease and provide.

It is recommended that your upgrades are completed and that you lodge the relevant evidence and paperwork to DEW at least 6 months prior to the end of the 5-year lease, so that there is ample time to finalise the required documentation before your lease expires.

If the conditions of the lease are not met within 5 years, your lease will expire and a long-term lease will not be granted.

Do I have to start making upgrades before I apply for longer tenure?

Upgrades do not need to be made prior to applying for longer tenure. It is only if you apply and your application is successful that you need to begin making upgrades.

Can I go back to my life-tenure lease if I don’t complete the required works within the 5-year term?

Unfortunately, once you commit to an interim 5-year lease, with a view to seeking a long-term lease, you cannot return to a life-tenure lease.

This is because you have to surrender your life-tenure lease to be able to accept the 5-year lease, and once it has been surrendered it cannot be re-issued.

If you do not meet the terms and conditions of the 5-year lease within the 5 years, the lease will expire and longer tenure will not be issued.

At this point, the shack site will be required to be cleared and the land returned to the care of the Minister for Environment and Water.

Note: It is important that applicants only accept the 5-year lease if they are confident they can undertake the works required within this timeframe.

What happens if I complete the required upgrades sooner than 5 years?

As soon as you have undertaken the required upgrades and provided evidence to DEW of having done so, your longer term lease can be issued.

If it takes you the full 5 years to complete your upgrades, you will receive a longer lease with a 45-year duration for Crown land shacks (totalling a 50-year longer term lease) or a 25-year duration for national parks shacks (totalling a 30-year longer term lease).

If you complete your upgrades sooner than 5 years, your longer term lease will be extended to make up the balance.

For instance, completing the upgrades in 2 years would mean a longer term lease for Crown land shacks would be for 48 years and for national park shacks would be for 28 years.

Who is responsible for the costs of any upgrades?

As the applicant, you are responsible for all costs related to shack upgrades. This includes paying for any other statutory fees required by other agencies.

If you are not the current lessee, you need to work together to determine who is responsible for any costs incurred.

How do I seek the approval of the Minister to undertake works, as stipulated in my lease conditions?

To seek approval of the Minister to undertake works, you will need to fill in a form.

For works that also require development approval, the regulatory authority will request that you provide them a copy of the Minister’s approval to undertake the works before they will approve your application for development.

Is there an opportunity to increase the size of my parcel of land?

The Retaining Shacks opportunity is not considering changes to the area of shack sites unless the installation of a wastewater system cannot fit within the current leased area.

Are there opportunities to apply for a lease for a site that has an expired life-tenure lease?

DEW is not currently considering leasing previously vacated and cleared shack sites.

Receiving an offer of longer tenure

What does the ‘Offer to lease’ package entail?

If an application for longer tenure is successful, applicants will receive an ‘Offer to Lease’ package prior to formally entering into the new tenure arrangement.

The ‘Offer to Lease’ package sets out the terms and conditions of the lease that the Minister for Environment and Water is willing to offer.

The package includes a ‘Letter of Offer’, the Lease Agreement and further details about the next steps in the process.

Is the lease agreement I receive in my ‘Offer to lease’ package final?

The ‘Offer to lease’ package includes the final lease agreement and schedule. These documents are specific to each individual shack site.

What does ‘holiday accommodation purposes’ on my lease agreement mean?

All proposed long-term leases will be for ‘holiday accommodation purposes’. This is the equivalent purpose to current life-tenure leases, which may reference ‘holiday accommodation’ or ‘shack accommodation’ depending on when the lease was issued.

Holiday accommodation is classified as use for personal holiday purposes and does not include:

  • occupation of the dwelling on the land exceeding an uninterrupted period of 60 calendar days or such other period of time as reasonably notified in writing to the lessee by the Minister for Environment and Water
  • the use of the land as a permanent place of residence
  • the use of the land as a commercial operation to invite members of the public to purchase goods or services

Where can I find valuation information?

Market rent for the Crown's interest (land only) was determined by an independent land valuer, consistent with the Crown Land Management Act 2009.

Letters of offer for long-term leases will include the market rent, and for comparison purposes the rent for any existing life tenure lease for the same land parcel. This will help inform lessees of the cost of moving to a long-term transferrable lease.

Rent for new long-term shack leases on Crown lands and in national parks will be fixed at current market rent until 30 June 2026.

Rent revaluations for life tenure leases will continue in accordance with lease terms and conditions – every 3 or 5 years depending on the rent review period contained in each lease.

For more information, read ‘Valuations under the Crown Land Management Act 2009’.

Specific questions about shacks on Crown land

Are there opportunities to lease previously vacated and cleared sites within the shack areas?

DEW is not currently considering leasing previously vacated and cleared shack sites.

If any Crown land parcels are considered eligible for freehold (or lease) then public notification will be undertaken to allow people to apply. Information about purchasing Crown land is available on the website.

Why do I have to get my conveyancer to contact the DEW Shacks team?

Leases relevant to Crown land are formally registered against the title through the Land Services SA database. This includes the life tenure shack leases on Crown land.

It is a formal requirement that a conveyancer is engaged to undertake the verification of identity process for shacks on Crown land, and that they work with the DEW’s conveyancer to lodge the surrender of the existing lease and the new lease.

For confidentiality purposes, DEW is not permitted to approach or discuss your application with a conveyancer or solicitor until the conveyancer has worked with you to complete the required client authorisation paperwork.

Specific questions about shacks in national parks

Why is there are difference in the maximum lease term available for shacks in national parks compared to shacks on Crown land?

National parks shacks are located in areas that are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972. This is often because of the area’s environmental qualities, such as the protection of threatened species of flora and fauna, or because it has significant cultural values.

In addition, some areas within national parks may be subject to native title . In these circumstances, it is necessary for the state to comply with the provisions of the native title Act 1993 (Cth).

The 30-year lease term for shacks in national parks has been considered and adopted based on a range of factors, including native title requirements and a balance of fairness and equity for national parks shack lessees across the state.

Do I need a conveyancer?

At this stage DEW does not require a lessee to engage aconveyancer to undertake the verification of identity process and register thelease.

During the interim 5-year lease period, DEW will investigate ifnational park shack leases can and/or need to be registered in the LandServices SA register book.

DEW will be in touch with lessees when this clarification has been received.

How do I find out the wastewater requirements for my national park shack?

Detailed information about wastewater requirements can be found on the Wastewater System Requirements webpage. You will find a fact sheet listed there that covers general information about wastewater requirements for Crown land and national parks shacks, as well as several fact sheets focusing on particular national parks, and their unique wastewater requirements.

You are encouraged to read the general information sheet before reading the fact sheet about your national park location.

If the preferred wastewater system for my site is a holding tank, what size tank do I need to install?

The Onsite Wastewater Systems Code includes the calculation for the minimum size holding tank you need depending on whether your shack is connected to a potable water supply or rainwater.

Where rainwater is the only source of potable water for a shack, a holding tank must be minimum of 3000L (125L/person x 6 persons x 4 days). Where there is a bore or mains water supply, the minimum size required is 3600L (150L/person x 6 persons x 4 days).

Holding tanks are required to have an alarm, which must activate when there is at least 24 hours of capacity left in the system (10.2.3).

A bigger holding tank is always preferred from a public health perspective but this must be balanced with causing minimal ground disturbance, particularly in places where cultural heritage material may be located.

What level of detail about my wastewater system do I need to supply to both DEW and the local council?


DEW needs to know the type of system you propose to use (as described in the Onsite Wastewater Systems Code), the location of the system on your parcel, and, if required, the area where an EPA licensed waste transporter will need to access the site and what will happen to any non-compliant wastewater systems currently in place. This information can be supplied when applying for the Minister’s consent.

For the local council

The Onsite Wastewater Systems Code outlines the information which must be provided as part of an application to the local council for a wastewater works approval. The council will also require good designs, preferably produced by a wastewater engineer or similar professional.

Where can I find information about the setback requirements for my wastewater system?

The setback requirements from environmental water sources of all wastewater systems are listed in the Onsite Wastewater Systems Code. Seek advice from a wastewater engineer or similar professional.

Do I have to remove my non-compliant wastewater system?

Existing non-compliant wastewater systems can be either decommissioned or removed. The following steps are an example of how to decommission a non-compliant system. Please obtain professional assistance where necessary when decommissioning a system:

  1. Hire a licensed contractor to pump out sewage to remove liquid and solid sludge from the tank and water pumped from the soakage trench by lowering the suction pipe in the induct vent of the trench.
  2. Once empty of liquid, make a hole in the bottom of the concrete septic tank using a backhoe or similar equipment. This is to prevent the tank collecting water.
  3. Fill the empty tank with earth and engage a plumber to demolish the septic tank with a backhoe.
  4. The plumber must then fill the excavation with natural earth from the area and compact the soil with a backhoe.
  5. With the soakage trench, the trench is structurally stable and so is abandoned. The induct vent is removed and cut below ground level to avoid a trip hazard and it ceases to function as a soakage trench as there is no inflow from the septic tank.