In Australia, government entities have the power to compulsorily acquire land owned by private citizens.
Compulsory acquisition is sometimes undertaken when new government buildings are being constructed, to make way for new roads or highways, or for other public infrastructure projects. As the name suggests, if your property is earmarked for compulsory acquisition, you do not get a choice in the matter.
To have your home or business premises taken away from you can understandably be quite stressful (not to mention an interruption), and getting experienced legal advice is a must to guide you through the process can be very helpful.
The good news is that in most cases, the government entity acquiring the property (“Acquiring Authority”) will pay most or in some cases, all of your associated costs of your compulsory acquisition lawyer. Furthermore, in relation to the acquisition of business premises, even if you are a tenant, and not the owner of the business premises, you will be entitled to claim for compensation – and these claims can be surprisingly large.
The first step in the compulsory acquisition process is the Notice of Intention to Acquire, which the Acquiring Authority must give to the owners of the affected properties. That document will explain why the property is being acquired and the approximate date that the property will be acquired. If you receive a Notice of Intention to Acquire, you cannot sell the property or enter into any a new lease for the property.
The Acquiring Authority has six months from the date of serving the Notice to actually acquire the property – otherwise the Notice lapses.
If the Acquiring Authority does acquire your land or business premises (whether you own or lease those commercial premises), it will publish a notice in the Government Gazette.
Within 14 days of the publication of the notice in the Government Gazette, the Acquiring Authority will send you a certificate of valuation and an offer of compensation. They will also provide an explanation as to any difference between the valuation and the offer.
If you are unhappy with the compensation offer, you can make a counter-offer.
Before making a counter offer you should obtain legal advice from experienced lawyers. They can answer any questions you may have, and can negotiate with the Acquiring Authority on your behalf. They can also help identify and deficiencies in the offer and should be able to get you a better outcome than the initial offer.
The good news for landowners is that the acquiring authority must pay for your reasonable legal costs. This means that you are able to get advice from lawyers and potentially other experts such as valuers and not be out of pocket for these expenses.
As your lawyers, we can assist you by:
If your home or land is compulsorily acquired, please call us obligation free to receive experienced, practical, professional legal advice by lawyers who can manage the process at minimal, if any, cost to you. We have successfully represented many clients in compulsory acquisition matters and we have achieved very favourable outcomes.