• What is the meaning of “property” under the Act?

    “Property” means an animal or an item. Items are separated into classes (see Q3. below).

  • Are all animals included under the Act?

    No. Cats and dogs are not included under the Act, unless in relation to dogs in a national park. Pet cats and dogs are dealt with under the Companion Animals Act 1998.

    Other animals are also excluded by the Regulation. These include:

    • feral animals, but only those not kept as a pet or for farming purposes (e.g. wild pigs), and
    • native animals that are not ordinarily held in captivity or farmed (e.g. emus, kangaroos).

    Other laws may apply to feral or native animals.

  • What is an “item” under the Act?

    The Act classifies items that may be possessed by a person into three classes. Specific rules may apply to each when determining whether they are ‘unattended’ under the Act.

    • Class 1 items – small to medium sized capable of ownership that can be ordinarily collected by one or two persons without the need for machinery to lift, tow or move them (e.g. baggage, personal equipment such as surfboards or kayaks that are not available for hire).
    • Class 2 items – items available for use by the public at large, whether or not on payment of a fee or other benefit, including as part of a sharing service (e.g. share-bikes and shopping trolleys).
    • Class 3 items – motor vehicles, including hire cars, caravans, trailers and boat trailers.
  • When is property considered to be “unattended”?

    The concept “unattended” means the property is not under the direct control or supervision of the responsible person. Regulatory action can only be taken by an authorised officer in relation to property when the authorised officer reasonably believes the property is unattended.

    Items being left unsupervised is not necessarily a problem, for example leaving a car in a carpark. An item only becomes unattended for the purposes of triggering regulatory action under the Act when it causes an access obstruction or safety risk, or when it interferes with public amenity because of its location, or the length of time that it has been left in one place.

    Timeframes for the removal of unattended items, which are prescribed in the Regulation, are based on risk.

  • What is a “public place”?

    “public place” is a place that is open to or frequented by the public whether or not payment has been received for admission and whether or not it is usually open to the public.

    This may include a privately owned place which members of the public are permitted to access, including a shopping centre car park, a service station, a private gallery or museum or a thoroughfare.

  • Who is an authorised officer?

    An “authorised officer” is a person appointed by an authority prescribed under the Regulation. Authorities are generally public land managers and include local councils, Local Lands Services, transport authorities and park authorities.

    NSW Police is not an authority under the Act but police officers have the powers of authorised officers as if they had been appointed by the relevant authority on whose land they may carry out functions under the Act.

  • What is considered a “corporation”?

    “corporation” has the same meaning as included under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), which means a company, body corporate, or a certain kind of unincorporated body.

  • When do the new laws commence?

    The Act and Regulation commenced on 1 November 2022, except for section 19 of the Act relating to special arrangements for stock animals in emergencies which commenced 1 November 2023.

    To allow relevant operators and owners time to understand and comply with the new laws, the Regulation provided for a 6-month ‘grace’ period from 1 November 2022 until 30 April 2023. During this period fines could not be issued for leaving certain property (e.g. shopping trolleys, kayaks, stock animals) unattended in public.

    From 1 May 2023 authorised officers may issue a penalty notice for the offence of leaving all classes of property unattended.

  • Is an authority required to take action if it’s been made aware of unattended property in public?

    While it may be preferable to some members of the community that property left unattended in public is dealt with as soon as possible, authorised officers of authorities aren’t obliged to take regulatory action to deal with all unattended property that they become aware of.

    Authorities are largely autonomous in their day-to-day operational decision making. They need to balance the interests of public safety and amenity against resources and capacity.

    However, once an authorised officer takes possession of property, the relevant authority is obliged to store or care for it – taking all reasonable care to look after it – until it may be returned to the owner, sold or otherwise disposed of.

  • Where can I find further information?
  • When can authorities start issuing fines for unattended property?

    Penalty notices for offences relating to vehicles (including trailers and caravans) and share bikes may be issued from 1 November 2022.

    A penalty notice for offences for personal (Class 1) items such as kayaks and shopping trolleys (Class 2) items may be issued from 1 May 2023, to allow the NSW Government and local authorities time to promote the new requirements for these types of property and to enable businesses and the community to become familiar with the new laws.

    However, authorised officers may issue a notice to the owner of unattended property prior to this date, to inform them of their responsibilities to attend to their property and that, should their item be left unattended after 1 May 2023 they may be issued with a penalty notice.

    Authorities may also advise owners of unattended property where they can find additional information.

  • How are people notified that their property has been found unattended?

    Prior to taking regulatory action authorised officers must provide notices to those responsible for property if they reasonably believe the property is unattended. Notices must be served in writing to a postal address or an electronic address (email, web-based reporting system, text message).

    If an authorised officer is unable to reasonably identify the owner or other responsible person, or ascertain the owner or other responsible person’s contact details, written notice may be affixed directly to the item.

  • What notice is given to move an item?

    The Act and regulations set out steps that are to be taken by an authorised officer to identify and notify the owner, or other responsible person, about an unattended item.

    The written notice must include the notice period and specify the date and time when the authorised officer may take possession of the item or, where relevant, issue a penalty.

    Different minimum notice periods apply to different classes of item.

  • What are the penalties if property is left unattended in a public place?

    Owners, and other responsible persons, must take responsibility for their property or may face strong fines Penalty infringement notices (fines) for a single item range from $330 to $2,640, depending on the class of item and whether the offence was committed by an individual responsible person or by a body corporate. Whether a single or group of items/animals is left unattended is also considered in the fine amount.

  • What happens if property isn’t removed within the notice timeframe?

    Prior to commencing enforcement action, an authorised officer must take reasonable steps to identify and notify owners of property that they believe on reasonable grounds is unattended (Refer to Q12).

    If an item isn’t removed within the notice timeframe, it may be taken into possession by the authority who must, as soon as practicable if not already attempted, take reasonable steps to identify the owner of the property, and (where identified) give the owner notice that the property has been taken into possession.

    The property must be held for a specified period of time of (Deadline for Return period) before further action, such as trying to sell, give away or dispose of the property, can be taken. However, an item worth less than a certain amount may be destroyed if the owner doesn’t apply for its return within the specified period. In relation to animals held in a place of care by an authority, the authorities must take all reasonable steps to sell, give away or rehome the animal rather than euthanising it.

  • How can property be reclaimed by the owner?

    The notice of possession to an owner will advise where an item is being stored or an animal is being cared for. The owner can apply for the return of their property by making an application at any time during the minimum time period that property must be kept by the authority before the property is sold or otherwise disposed of. It is the responsibility of the owner to arrange for the collection of the property. An authority may charge an owner a fee in certain circumstances.

  • What happens to property that isn’t collected?

    If property isn’t collected by the owner by the Deadline for Return, then the authority must try to sell or give away the property. Authorities are required to try to sell or give away property for a period known as the Relevant Period.

    If an owner fails to collect their property from the authority by the Deadline for Return, they may be issued with a fine.

  • What happens if my property is sold? Can I claim proceeds from the sale?

    After an item or animal has been sold, an authority may keep amounts from the proceeds of the sale to cover costs incurred in selling the property, and any fee charged in relation to the item or animal having been taken into possession. An owner may claim any remaining proceeds of the sale within specified time periods. Following these time periods, an authority may keep any remaining amount from the proceeds of sale that has not been claimed.

  • What about unattended property on private land?

    The Act doesn’t generally provide for unattended property on private land, except in relation to trespassing animals. Occupiers may take possession of animals trespassing onto their land.

    Occupiers who choose to take possession of animals trespassing on their land must ensure the animal’s welfare at all times. Occupiers must also comply with strict timeframes within which to contact the owner or arrange return of the animal to the owner (if known), or organise for the animal to be taken to a place of care of the council or other relevant authority.

  • How is unattended property in a strata complex dealt with?

    Items left on private land in strata complexes are more commonly dealt with under the Uncollected Goods Act 1995 which gives persons in possession of uncollected goods the right to dispose of them after a certain period.

    While authorised officers may be invited onto private land to deal with unattended property, this is a matter for each authority to determine whether they choose to exercise their functions on private land, if invited to do so.

  • Can people leave a kayak or other personal item unattended along the shoreline?

    No, unless permitted by the relevant authority (e.g. by signage or by the erection of storage facilities available for storage purposes for free or for hire).

    The new laws put the onus on owners to be responsible for their items or face strong regulatory action. This is to better protect safety, access and amenity in public spaces in NSW for the enjoyment of the NSW community and visitors now and into the future. Anyone responsible for leaving unattended property, like a kayak, or a personal bicycle in a public place must remove it within risk-based timeframes or face strong enforcement action.

  • Who do I notify about property that’s been left unattended?

    The relevant authority responsible for the area should be contacted if you believe property has been left unattended in a public place. In many cases this will be the local council.

    For sharing service items, such as unattended shopping trolleys and share bikes, the relevant retailer or operator responsible should be contacted directly before contacting the relevant authority.  If they fail to act, an authorised officer of the relevant authority may issue them with notice to remove their item within risk-based timeframes after which their item may be taken into possession and the responsible person may be fined.

  • What are the rules for vehicles?

    All vehicles (e.g. cars, trailers and caravans) are treated equally under the new laws.

    Unattended vehicles posing a safety or access risk may be immediately taken into possession by an authorised officer.

    Under the new laws, any unattended vehicle that is unregistered, not physically driveable and/or left unattended for a prescribed period of time on a public road or in a public place may be more easily and quickly taken into possession by the relevant authority within risk-based timeframes.

    The new laws will help to free up valuable parking for owners of registered vehicles and remove unregistered and damaged vehicles from public places more quickly and effectively.

  • Can an authorised officer enter my vehicle?

    The Act makes it easier and quicker for authorised officers to access the information they need to identify and notify the responsible person for a vehicle. Authorised officers have specific powers of entry to vehicles for this purpose.

  • Are there on the spot fines for unregistered vehicles?

    Yes. Road transport laws and the PSUP Act now both enable councils, police, and transport authorities to issue an on-the-spot fine to the registered operator of an unregistered car or trailer parked on a street 15 days after registration lapses. This includes the ability for these authorities to affix fines directly to vehicles, rather than first identifying the registered operator, reducing the time vehicles are left on public land.

  • Does the Act cover vehicles that are parked across driveways?

    Yes. Where an unattended motor vehicle or trailer is obstructing access for vehicles or pedestrians, it may be taken into possession by an authorised officer immediately, without having to give notice to the owner. This applies to any vehicle (class 3 item) that is situated in a public place where it is obstructing access to either public or private property, including driveways.

  • Are boat trailers included under this Act?

    Yes. Boat trailers are included under this Act as “class 3 items (vehicles)”. Consultation feedback to the NSW Government was that the previous special arrangements for impounding boat trailers were onerous and not effective. These provisions have been removed.

    Any unregistered or damaged boat trailer in public may be dealt with more quickly under the new Act. Where parking is an issue, councils may impose parking restrictions.

  • Will there be changes to how share-bikes are managed?

    No. Existing measures will continue, that already place the onus and cost of dealing with the impacts of share-bikes onto the operators. Operators which don’t comply may face tougher penalties.

  • What if other types of shared transport become legal in NSW?

    Any sharing service device will be automatically captured under the Act, however, any mode of transport offered through a dock-less sharing service must first be compliant with the Road Rules.

  • How are shopping trolleys managed now?

    The Act requires retailers, or those responsible, to collect their trolleys within risk-based timeframes or face regulatory action. If a trolley is causing an obstruction or safety risk, retailers will have 3 hours to remove a trolley (outside of 11pm – 7am), or 4 days following notice that an authorised officer reasonably believes that their trolley has been left unattended for 7 days or more.

    Small retailers with fewer than 25 shopping trolleys are not required to meet the 3-hour timeframe for obstruction or safety risks. Instead, they have 4 days of notice to attend to any unattended shopping trolley.

  • When is a shopping trolley considered to be causing an obstruction or safety risk?

    A shopping trolley is considered to be causing a safety risk or an obstruction to access where it blocks or hinders access and the movement of cars and/or pedestrians, or otherwise poses a risk to persons, animals or the environment.  This includes, for example, creating a hazard on the road, blocking access to a footpath, fire exit, lift, access ramp or stairs.

  • Are shopping trolley owners and operators required to use specific technology to manage their trolleys?

    No. It is a matter for operators of sharing services, including retailers, to decide how to comply with the new shopping trolley requirements. Management strategies may include perimeter fencing, wheel lock devices, coin deposit schemes, trolley collection contractors or GPS technology.

    A code of practice outlines mandatory requirements for shopping trolleys. This provides that shopping trolleys and other sharing service devices must be branded with the operator’s contact details and to be in good working condition.

  • What are the penalties for shopping trolley owners and operators that don’t comply?

    A sharing service operator that does not co-operate to proactively manage their sharing service devices, including shopping trolleys, may face high fines and penalties.

    These may apply in circumstances in which an operator does not, within set timeframes, move a shopping trolley causing an obstruction or safety risk, interfering with public amenity, or that has been left in the same location for too long.

    The retailer may be issued with a penalty infringement notice (i.e fine), much like a traffic fine, of up to $1,320. A maximum penalty of $2,750 applies for individuals, and much higher penalties apply for body corporates, in line with community expectations. These penalties and fines may compound by 10 per cent for each additional trolley, up to 10 more trolleys (11 in total).

    The Act also provides for appropriate directions, or orders, to be imposed by an authority on an operator of a sharing service.

  • What if my animal is found unattended?

    Where an authorised officer reasonably believes that an animal is unattended and is in a public place or on private land without the permission of the occupier of the land, the authorised officer may take possession of the animal. No notice period is required prior to taking an unattended animal into possession due to public safety issues associated with animals wandering in public and for animal welfare reasons. The officer must ensure the animal is taken to a place of care or returned to the responsible person for the animal.

  • Is an authority required to take action if it’s made aware of an unattended animal in a public place?

    While it’s preferable that property left unattended in public is dealt with as soon as possible, authorities aren’t obliged to take regulatory action in relation to all unattended property that they become aware of.

    Authorities are largely autonomous in their day-to-day operational decision making. They need to balance the interests of public safety and amenity against resources and capacity.

  • Someone else’s animal is on my land – what can I do?

    Occupiers can take possession of animals that trespass onto their land. They must then look after the animal in line with animal welfare laws and, within strict timeframes, either contact the owner and/or return the animal to the owner, if known, or make arrangements for the animal to be taken to a place of care established by an authority.

    There are new penalties for persons who allow stock to become unattended and trespass onto private property, as well as directions or orders that may be issued to them, such as to fix fences.

  • What are the exceptions to stock being allowed on public and private land without a responsible person in immediate attendance?

    There are specific exceptions to where animals on public land are not ‘unattended’, including, when they are there with the consent of the private land owner or the relevant authority (e.g. on a traveling stock reserve).

  • What about stock management in an emergency?

    Special arrangements to enable stock animals to be temporarily kept on private land in emergencies (section 19 of the Act) commenced on 1 November 2023. Guidance is available to support authorities to work with regional and rural communities to ensure public safety while minimising animal welfare and biosecurity risks.

  • How will cross-jurisdictional issues in regional and rural areas be managed?

    The Act enables authorities, such as councils, Local Land Services and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, to enter into agreements to exercise powers across each other’s area of operations. This will improve responses to stock roll over and other issues on jurisdictional borders in regional and rural areas.

    An authorised officer may also exercise functions outside their area of operations if they reasonably believe it is necessary to do so in the interests of public health or safety or for environmental or biosecurity reasons.

  • Are there changes relating to animal welfare?

    One of the key objectives of the Act is to ensure animals dealt with under the PSUP framework are cared for in a way that is consistent with community expectations and animal welfare laws.

    Animals dealt with under the Act, including those taken into possession by an authority, must be cared for in line with the latest animal welfare laws.

    Animals may only be euthanised under the PSUP laws if it is cruel to keep them alive or there is no other reasonable alternative in the circumstances. Wherever possible, authorised officers must seek the assistance of a veterinary practitioner in treating and, where necessary, euthanising animals.