Being told by the government that your home or property is about
to be seized through compulsory acquisition for a freeway or a
railway line is a scary proposition. More and more people are
finding themselves in this predicament. Many people are unhappy
with the amount they are told they will get for their property and
feel helpless against the disproportionate power of the
Insist on obtaining your own property valuation
It is important to know that there are actions which you can
take to improve the initial offer, in some cases dramatically. The
first thing to do when a government agent declares that you have no
choice and that the value of your property has been predetermined
is to insist on exercising your right to obtain your own valuation
and your own expert legal advice.
I urge all property owners not to accept the government's
first offer, no matter how much they say it is fair and try to
convince you that the amount you are being offered is the market
Scaremongering by Roads and Maritime Services
Disturbingly, contemporary news sources are continuing to
propagate the fallacy that anyone who takes the government to court
to receive adequate compensation could end up having to pay
"hundreds of thousands of dollars" in legal fees.
This is simply misinformation which reflects the fear-mongering
peddled by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), as my clients
have reported to me, to scare people into accepting inadequate
compensation rather than standing up to the state government
bullies in court.
Anybody who ends up with a large legal bill like this has had
very poor advice, or has acted very foolishly in their court case.
And anyone forced to pay rent to remain in their own home
definitely needs a better lawyer.
Protections for homeowners built into the legislation
The fact of the matter is that anyone can afford to engage a
top-notch lawyer because it's free. Fees for legal advice and
expert assistance to a property owner under the acquisition process
must be paid for by the government under a provision in the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act.
The reason for this is that the government has a lot of
experience in compulsory land acquisition, while most land owners
have never done it before. This is why the Act builds in
protections for landowners, by paying their costs to obtain expert
legal and valuation advice.
What can you claim as part of the compensation package?
There are all manner of claims which homeowners can make as part
of the compensation package. These include "solatium",
which recognises an emotional attachment to a home and
"disturbance", which recognises the need to buy a similar
property, such as one with disabled access, proximity to hospital
or amenities, removalist costs, connection of phones and other
services to the new home.
In addition, stamp duty and legal fees incurred in the purchase
of a new home are fully claimable, as well as the refinancing fees
for the mortgage.
RMS does not have the property owner's interests at
RMS staff have taken away a lot of properties and they do not
have the property owner's interests at heart. On the contrary,
they will hire top-shelf lawyers to fight landowners' claims
every step of the way.
This is why it is important to have an experienced legal expert
on your side who knows the system and can stand up to the
government to make sure they pay proper compensation.
Businesses pushed out of their premises by government
Businesses facing compulsory acquisition of their premises can
claim for certain costs, but again, this needs expert advice to get
the best result.
The fact is that every business has different needs. Faced with
compulsory acquisition, some can be relocated and some cannot.
Those that cannot be relocated must be compensated for the total
destruction of the business.
Relocation claims can include a vast range of expenses,
including the following:
cost of finding suitable new premises
legal costs for the new lease and bank guarantees
fitout of the new premises
installation of any specialist equipment
setting up and testing new phone systems, data cabling and
computer hubs to ensure a smooth transition with minimal business
The laws that govern interactions between resource authority holders and landholders have changed with this legislation.
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