In a story that has conveyancing intrigue written all over it, developers preparing to build the new Whitmore Square Tower have been held up because the owner of a bordering laneway cannot be found.
The details are captured in an Adelaide Now article, Major Adelaide hotel project may need the ‘consent’ of a man who died in 1884.
While the topic has captured the interest of genealogists, from a conveyancing perspective this story sheds much light on the role we play in property transactions.

Whose lane is it anyway?

The lane in question is Adam’s Lane, a small lane that dog legs off Selby Street to the north west of Whitmore Square and was probably created as a night cart lane.

According to the article, Robert Hogan bought the lane in 1867 and despite dying in 1884 he remains the official owner of the land.

Lawyers working for the architects of the new hotel development have lodged a public plea to find anybody linked to the late colonist’s estate.
One possibility, if such a person is found, is they could lodge a caveat over the land to ‘protect their interests’, and we’ve discussed caveats here previously, in articles like Who keeps watch for caveats lurking in property transactions? Your conveyancer.

Who holds the key to unlocking this mystery?

To any reasonable person, it would seem ridiculous that a small lane like this that has not been maintained by the family of the registered proprietor could hold up a large development like a proposed high rise.

It’s certainly important to follow the correct procedures but I’d like to think that if a descendant was found they would consent to the development given they have had no input into the upkeep of the lane.

Fortunately the Registrar General, Brenton Pike, has the power to deal with situations like this if the registered proprietor can’t be found.
While one can only hope that red tape won’t get in the way of progress in this instance, this story again shows why it is crucial to have a good conveyancer on your side to pay attention to the fine details of titles, caveats and other legal instruments.