Glenn Duker speaking Compulsory Acquisition Law
Compulsory acquisition of land typically occurs when a government department permanently requires the land of a private citizen for a public purposes. In practice, this mostly when Vicroads requires all or part of someone’s land to build or expand a road network.
Compulsory acquisition of land can affect both residential land owners and commercial property landowners. It can be an enormous shock to learn that Vicroads needs your property.
If Vicroads needs all of your land, it will be required to compensate you for the fair market value of your property. The positive news is that you may be entitled to more than what you are offered by Vicroads.
This is especially true if only part of you’re land is acquired. Then there are other considerations such as noise pollution. How will a road brought close to your home affect you? You need to be sure that appropriate measures are being taken. Lawyers and other experts can guide you in this regard. Furthermore, the fact your landscape is forever changed may have other impacts. For instance, you may need remove or move particular items like gazebos or sheds and this will require additional compensation.
Remember that this is all on top of being compensated for the land value itself. So there is potentially more than one type of compensation that you may seek.
Commercial Property Owners
Commercial property onwards have further considerations. Not merely is there the value of your land and building, your loss may extend to the loss of income following the departure of the tenant.
If it is your own business in the premises, you will also be entitled to all the reasonable costs associated with relocating your business. These costs can be substantial but not always considered fully by a claimant.
Legal costs and valuation costs
As an affected party, you are entitled to appoint lawyers of your choice. Expert legal advice is critical to maximising your compensation. After all, you only want what is fair. Your lawyers will know the right valuers and other expert consultants required to assist in establishing the legitimacy of your claim.
Notably, these costs are typically fully recoverable ie., you will be reimbursed by the acquiring authority. An interim advance will also be typically available to you, which will assist your ability to be fund your case and otherwise give you some financial relief while your case is being processed.
What happens if the parties can’t agree?
Legislation allows for you to take the matter to VCAT for a determination if no agreement be reached. Your legal and other costs will continue to be covered provided you have reasonable grounds for doing so.
All in all, the system will compensate a party whose land has been compulsorily acquired. It is just this is a complex area of law and most people just don’t know how to maximise their compensation. It is always sensible to seek legal advice early in relation to your individual circumstances as early in the process as possible.