Residents of private residential estates must negotiate the complex of expectations, rights and responsibilities that comes with the community title legislation that defines the management and structure of these neighbourhoods. Of particular importance is the way in which the governance structure of these estates simultaneously supports and threatens their social and financial viability. Drawing on the findings of research conducted in a privately governed master planned residential estate in Sydney, Australia, this article considers the residents' lived experience of the community title scheme. It argues that a perceived lack of transparency in the contractual arrangements which residents enter into when they purchase a property within a private estate directly frames a set of expectations that are at odds with their legislative responsibilities. Also evident is the existence of tensions between the demands placed on residents by the structure of private governance that manages and polices the estate and those of the local government that manages the area within which the estate is located. The article concludes that there is a need for policy attention to be given to the development and management of private residential estates in Australia.