Our office has been bombarded with these types of questions. This question presents a unique element to the question of police powers and property. While it may seem to be a straight forward question, the answer is not so.

Police do not have unlimited powers to do as they please. There are certain things that police must adhere to. For example, you may be surprised to learn that police cannot just enter your property without your consent.

The most powerful court in Australia, the High Court, has ruled that police officers have no special rights to enter land. Bearing certain exemptions, if a police officer is merely walking along the footpath, and decides to randomly jump the fence for no reason, then he or she would be committing an offence if they did not obtain consent of the owner, occupier or person apparently in charge of the property.

This means if police come knocking on your door merely to make enquiries, you have every right to tell them to leave the property. There are, however, exceptions discussed below. But in the event police find something in your home that is considered illegal, the question of why they are on the property becomes relevant. If police could not justify why they were on your property legally, then any evidence they may obtain from your property may be inadmissible in court.


If police have a valid warrant, then they can not only request you let them in, but they may use reasonable force to enter the property. A warrant is a written order from a judge or magistrate giving police power to enter a property or land without consent of the owner.

But a warrant is not the only way police can be lawfully on your land. If a neighbour hears a couple yelling for example, police have the power to enter the property in question and investigate if there are any domestic violence matters or to prevent domestic violence offences from occurring.

A High Court matter talked about the above scenario whereby police entered a property wherein a couple were reported to have domestic violence issues. Upon arrival, the partner had already left and police then questioned the remaining occupant. The occupant became angry and violent so police arrested him. The High Court ruled that police did not have a legal basis to be on his property. Since the other partner already left before police arrived, the investigation into domestic violence matters could not be initiated. The arrest was invalid.

Another situation where Police can enter property without permission is to arrest someone who they know is in the property. A classic example is when a grand theft auto style offence is taking place and the alleged offender jumps the fence and runs through your backyard to get away from police. Police then have the power to enter your land to chase and apprehend the suspect.

Furthermore, police are allowed to use reasonable force to enter a property to assist someone who is injured and render medical assistance.


The ambiguity lies in who the actual occupier of the land is when it comes to hotel rooms.

If police come knocking on your hotel room, then it is relevant as to whether police has consent from the person in charge of the premises at the time. Apart from the exemptions discussed above, such as a warrant, domestic violence and rendering aid, the police must obtain permission to be on the land or property.

Renting a hotel room does not give the occupants right to that land. Only use of the room. The terms and conditions of the hotel will apply and the hotel owner or person in charge ultimately has the power to give permission for police to be on the property.


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