A Lake Heights couple are angered at the prospect that someone else could own a piece of what they believed was part of their driveway – for $2000.
Riste and Milena Gulevski have lived at their Lake Heights Road home for nearly a decade; his family since 1986.
A 3m by 4.3m, triangle-shaped lot, referred to as “Lot Y” and located within their driveway was recently listed for sale for $2000.
The pair has expressed shock and frustration that unless they paid that amount they could lose access to part of their driveway.
“When my husband rang the council, they told him that the people who were dividing the blocks, they made a mistake,” Mrs Gulevski said.
“It’s stupid... Am I going to pay $2000 for someone else's mistake? It's really not fair.”
Mr Gulevski said that, “I don't want to lose that little piece,” and was therefore considering making an offer of $500.
“I’ve asked why when we bought the home... (Why) if it was there, the solicitor and the surveyor didn't show us.
“You've maintained, poured concrete all the way, our parents... Now they're saying it’s not even yours.”
“Lot X”, a triangle-shaped, 5sqm lot on Lake Heights Road within a neighbours’ yard, is also for sale for $2000.
Mrs Gulevski claimed they were told “someone from Sydney is interested in ours and next door's, so they apparently left a ten per cent deposit on it”.
MMJ Real Estate are selling the parcels on behalf of Wollongong City Council.
Director David Geary said he was “currently dealing with people on the Lake Heights land” for both sites.
“We are in the process of talking to buyer and the vendor in relation to those properties,” he said.
They are also selling a parcel at Lot 2 Cochrane Road, Thirroul, which has dimensions of 0.2m by 83.6m.
Property is at a premium in Thirroul, and interested parties perusing real estate websites may have been surprised to see land in Thirroul listed for $10,000.
Mr Geary said they had received plenty of inquiries regarding the 12sqm lot.
“People see ‘Thirroul land, $10,000’ - you get a hundred calls,” he said.
“We've all serviced more real estate calls on this land than we do on general real estate, because of the price.
“When people see the $10,000, or $2000 for the ones at Lake Heights, there are numerous calls all the time of people seeking further information.
“The standard questions are, 'what can you do with this land? Can I put a house on it, for example?'
“We tell people to do their own research, because they're unusual shapes and sizes of lots of land, and anything that could be done with these would have to be approved by council anyway.”
Why council is selling off tiny land lots
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery has stood by the council’s decision to force the sale of a number of strange, small blocks across the city, saying it has no choice.
The unusual sales are likely the result of a historical glitch, which means these oddly-shaped leftover parcels had for decades not been officially recognised by the council.
The triangular Lot Y and Lot X at Lake Heights may have been left aside for some sort of council infrastructure, for instance, while the elongated Thirroul lot is likely to have been the result of incorrect measurements by a surveyor.
This changed several years ago, when the NSW Valuer General officially identified the lots, which meant the council was required to start charging rates.
However, as this type of leftover land tends to be in the names of historical development companies, these rates were left unpaid.
When rates in NSW remain unpaid for more than five years, councils can start the process of selling the land to recoup their money.
As the council does not own the land (which is left in the hands of often-dissolved historical companies), it must conduct a “market valuation” and public sale.
Councillor Bradbery said the council had to stick closely to the rules set through the NSW Local Government Act.
“It’s not like we’re money hungry – it’s not like a couple of thousand dollars here and there is going to bankrupt the council,” he said.
“It’s just that there’s all these little fragments of land that are often overlooked, and we’re giving people near them the opportunity to consolidate their own lot. But it has to be done through an open process, because it needs to be transparent.”
He did acknowledge that this process could be subverted by “mischief makers” who wanted to buy the land to cause trouble. For instance, at 86 Lake Heights Road where the unallocated parcel crosses the driveway, a council spokeswoman said “if someone else were to ultimately purchase the land then [the residents] would need to either establish a right of way from the new owner” or move their driveway.