A WODONGA house owner has been left stunned after a rail authority told him part of his block belonged to it.
A VicTrack manager advised Huon Street property owner Rodger Winch in a letter this week that 170 square metres of his land was in the hands of the organisation.
“Following a recent review of our land ownership in Wodonga, it has been noted that you appear to be encroaching onto VicTrack land,” land sales manager Leigh Morris wrote.
“There are two solutions to this situation...vacate the encroached land or purchase the encroached land.”
The land covers the driveway, most of the garage and the edge of the house on Mr Winch’s block.
Mr Morris noted that Mr Winch would have to remove “any assets”, restore the land and reinstate a fence line if he vacated, while a purchase would be subject to VicTrack obtaining a valuation.
“It (sic) would be grateful if you would please provide your written response electing option 1 or option 2 within the next 2 weeks,” Mr Morris stated.
Mr Winch, who brought the property in the early 1990s and leases it, was shocked to be given the ultimatum by VicTrack.
“It was completely out of the blue, there’s never been any thought that might have happened,” Mr Winch said.
“The only talk about any types of restrictions was the stormwater easement at the back of the yard.
“They’ve only given two options, they’ve failed to suggest that I’ve got the opportunity to prove I already own it.
“They haven’t expressed that all, they’re saying ‘it is our land, get off it or pay for it’."
The Mount Isa resident believes VicTrack may have lost records and that has resulted in confusion.
He pointed to a document sent to him which had Huon Street listed as Bradford Street.
“If you can get street name wrong, what else can you get wrong?” Mr Winch said.
“It raises questions as to the accuracy of their documentation.
“If they’re going to push the issue I want to see the chain of custody for all those properties around the place, show me when each was sold off and then we can find the gaps in their information.”
VicTrack did not respond to The Border Mail’s inquiries on Friday with Mr Morris refusing to speak to the journalist because he had not spoken to him before.
VicTrack’s review of land ownership in Wodonga followed inquiries by town planner Ron Mildren on behalf of an automotive business.
The private practitioner contacted the rail land body six months ago after being engaged by Jappo Donks owner Russell Klose.
The Hovell Street venture covers two blocks that extend back to the old Albury to Wodonga railway corridor.
It also borders the Huon Street house block of Mr Winch.
Like Mr Winch, Mr Klose received a letter this week from VicTrack, stating it owned 582 square metres covering his rear yard.
However, while he was surprised at the news, Mr Klose said he would not be arguing with the outcome and would buy the land.
“It’s not worth the stress,” Mr Klose said.
“I had no idea (it was VicTrack’s), but I would be guessing that VicTrack want to get rid of it at a really good rate.”
Mr Mildren said the land may have been obtained by VicTrack as part of a road reserve.
He doubts there are any other sizeable tracts of land that VicTrack unknowingly possesses in Wodonga.
“It’s possible, but I think it’s a remote possibility,” Mr Mildren said.
“There may be tiny slithers, but these are the last parcels of land that have any substance to them.”
Mr Mildren said VicTrack was exempt from paying rates on the land.
He said the case showed the importance of property buyers making adequate checks on land status.
“You can’t seriously come back and say ‘they didn’t tell me’ because you’re taking on your lawyers and conveyancers,” Mr Mildren said.
- You can now receive updates straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here