If you are, or believe you will be affected by a compulsory acquisition, it is important to know your rights. It is recommended to seek advice from a property lawyer. Our network of lawyers includes experienced property lawyers that operate on a fixed-fee basis.

What is a compulsory acquisition?

A compulsory acquisition is the process through which all levels of government can acquire privately owned land for public purposes. This may consist of acquiring the entire or part of the property. This process is conducted with mutual negotiation, and in the event that agreement is not reached as to the amount of compensation payable by the ‘acquiring authority’, the property is acquired through a compulsory process.

Do I get a say in the acquisition of my property?

Yes, to a certain extent. Each landowner has the right for their property to be acquired on just terms, and the right to negotiate. This negotiation can continue for a maximum of six months. During this period both the landowner and the acquiring authority seek their own independent land valuations, and negotiate on the amount that should be paid.

What if I do not agree to the amount offered?

If being the landowner, you do not agree to the amount offered by the acquiring authority, the acquiring authority can compulsorily acquire the land. This is done through the following process:

  1. If no agreement is reached, the acquiring authority starts compulsory acquisition by issuing a Proposed Acquisition Notice. This indicates when the land will be compulsorily acquired (normally 90-120 days).
  2. The landowner must then serve a ‘claim for compensation form’.
  3. The acquiring authority compulsorily acquires the land by publishing an acquisition notice in the Government Gazette.
  4. Once the land has been compulsorily acquired, the Valuer-General determines compensation payable.
  5. Landowner offered compensation amount as determined by the Valuer-General.
  6. Landowner has 90 days to decide whether to accept or reject the offer of compensation. If the landowner accepts, it must be paid within 28 days of the acceptance. If the landowner does not accept, the landowner may appeal to the Land and Environment Court within 90 days of receiving the offer.

The Valuer-General is responsible to determine the amount of compensation to be offered to the landowner. The Valuer-General is an independent statutory officer, who is appointed by the Governor. The importance of having the Valuer-General determine the amount to be paid is that it allows the process to be more ‘just’ and transparent as the Valuer-General does not act for either the owner or the acquiring authority. While making this assessment, the Valuer-General is required to produce a full valuation report. This report includes details of what was considered in the valuation, how the concerns of the landowner were addressed, and most importantly, explains how the amount of compensation was determined. If a landowner is still not satisfied with the amount of compensation determined by the Valuer-General, they can lodge an objection with the Land and Environment Court.

Can I be compensated for more than the value of my land?

Not only are landowners entitled to be compensated for the value of the land but could also be compensated for the following:

  • Reasonable costs associated with the negotiation including professional valuation and legal advice
  • Market value
  • Special value (if the land has a special value to the landowner)
  • Severance (if the land has been cut into two or more portions)
  • Valuation costs
  • Legal costs
  • Relocation costs
  • Stamp duty
  • Mortgage-fees
  • Disadvantage resulting from relocation

Conclusion

If you are affected by, or think you may be affected by a compulsory acquisition, it is important to know your rights so that you can be justly compensated for the value of your property and any other costs you incur throughout the purpose.

If you are in a situation where this is or can affect you, it is important to seek advice from a property lawyer.

Need assistance to ascertain your rights when the Government seeks to compulsorily acquire your land? Do you need help with the process of acquisition and compulsory acquisition? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.

Mikail Mermi

Mikail is a Paralegal working in our content team, which aims to provide free legal guides to facilitate public access to legal resources. With a passion for increasing access to justice, and criminal, commercial and privacy law, his research explores how the law is adapting to emerging technologies and how this affects consumers and businesses alike.