It seems like the NSW Government is on an acquisition frenzy casting a shadow over the future of many property owners and business operators.
In particular, a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald indicated that of the 424 properties marked for acquisition, 111 properties were yet to be acquired for the WestConnex project.
What can the property owners in Sydney’s inner west expect if their property is chosen?
How does Compulsory Acquisition of Land work?
1. Taking it right back to the beginning, plans for the extension, upgrade or creation of new infrastructure are determined by the NSW Government. For example, the WestConnex project for the extension of the M4 East motorway via underground tunnels.
2. Property owners who have properties that lie within the area required to be used for the project receive letters from an acquiring authority notifying them of the following:
a. Their property is to be acquired;
b. A valuer will be appointed to value their property; and
c. That the property owner is entitled to engage an independent and registered valuer to value their property.
This letter is called a “Proposed Acquisition Notice”. In the case of WestConnex, the acquiring authority was “WestConnex Delivery Authority”. It is always our recommendation to obtain legal advice early.
3. The appointed valuers for the acquiring authority will conduct their valuation of the property.
4. Property owners will then receive a letter of offer from the acquiring authority.
5. If the offer is not acceptable to the property owners, they can finalise their valuation and submit a counter offer to the acquiring authority.
6. Negotiations between the acquiring authority and the property owners will then proceed.
7. Where agreement cannot be reached between the parties, the compulsory acquisition process governed by the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 begins.
8. The acquiring authority will make an application to the relevant government minister for approval to compulsorily acquire the property. In the case of WestConnex, the relevant minister was the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight.
9. Once approved, notice of the compulsory acquisition will be published in the Government Gazette at which date the property will become legally owned by the acquiring authority.
10. Within the next 30 days, the acquiring authority must give the property owners written notification of the compulsory acquisition, advise the property owners of their entitlement to compensation as well as the amount of compensation that has been determined by the Valuer-General.
11. The property owners will then have 90 days to consider the offer and either accept the amount of compensation or object to the amount of compensation via commencing proceedings in the NSW Land and Environment Court.
12. If the property owners accept the amount of compensation offered, they are required to enter into a Deed of Release with the acquiring authority. The compensation will then be paid within 28 days of the acquiring authority receiving the completed Deed of Release.
13. If the property owners decide to reject the offer of compensation and commence proceedings in the NSW Land and Environment Court, the property owners are required to give the acquiring authority notice of the proceedings.
14. Where the property owner agrees, an advance payment of 90% of the compensation offered will be paid to the property owner within 28 days of the acquiring authority receiving notification. The money is otherwise held in a trust account pending the decision of the NSW Land and Environment Court.
15. After the acquiring authority has paid 90% of the compensation, it is entitled to vacant possession of the property.
16. Compensation will then be determined by the NSW Land and Environment Court (or a higher Court such as the Full Court of the Supreme Court of NSW where required). Factors that are to be taken into consideration include:
a. Market value at the date of acquisition;
b. Special value incidental to the property owners use of the land;
c. Loss attributable to severance of land where appropriate;
d. Disturbance losses including relocation costs, legal fees and valuation fees; and
e. Solatium (i.e. compensation for non-financial disadvantage arising from the necessity to relocate).
How can G&B Lawyers help you?
Property Owners faced with the prospects of Compulsory Acquisition are permitted to obtain independent legal and valuation advice in relation to the process and their entitlements. The reasonable fees of the legal advice and valuation advice are covered by the acquiring authority.
Property owners should therefore have no hesitation in contacting G&B Lawyers for assistance. G&B Lawyers are experts in compulsory acquisition negotiations having been involved in compensation appeals in the NSW Land and Environment Court.
We will assemble an experienced team of professionals to ensure that the property owner is happy with the amount of compensation and with the outcome and will not walk away out of pocket.
For an obligation-free discussion, contact Kim Glassborow (Partner) on Mobile 0481 287 528 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Office: Suite 1, Level 1, 229 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Mail: GPO Box 1849, Sydney, NSW 2001
M: 0481 287 528
Reference to Sydney Morning Herald article: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/cost-of-westconnex-property-acquisitions-set-to-exceed-15b-20160914-grg2zc.html