Your home may not be your castle. Whilst it is generally accepted that public authorities in Victoria have compulsory land acquisition powers (e.g. VicRoads, your local Council or water corporation), most of our clients are surprised to learn that these powers can be exercised whether or not the owner agrees or that development and use of a property can be constrained by the relevant planning scheme because at least part of it is or will be required for a public purpose without the authority exercising its compulsory land acquisition powers.
A person faced with an authority’s exercise of its powers can find it overwhelming. Our Compulsory Land Acquisition team understands this and works closely with our clients to meet their needs.
As a general proposition, a person or company with an “interest in land” can make a claim for compensation against an authority under the following relevant Acts provided specific requirements of are first met:
- Under the Planning & Environment Act 1987, when the value of the property is reduced as a result of either a planning permit refusal or a reservation of at least part of the property for a public purpose in the relevant planning scheme; or
- Under the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986, when the authority acquires at least part of the property and an interest in the property is divested or reduced in value as a result of the exercise of the compulsory land acquisition powers.
There are many interests in land which give rise to a right to make a claim such as a tenant in a lease of property, a mortgagee having lent money for which the property acts as security and a purchaser pursuant to a contract of sale. Separate legal representation is required to address the individual complexities of ownership, the development and use of the property and the nature and extent of the interests of the various claimants.
Rennick & Gaynor specialises in acting for these claimants as a result of various government projects across Victoria. Some of the most recent projects are listed below and a more exhaustive list can be found here:-
- Suburban Rail Loop;
- North East Link;
- Princes Highway Duplications – Geelong to Colac and Traralgon to Sale;
- Regional Rail Link;
- South Beach Road Intersection in Torquay;
- Kananook Train Storage Facility;
- Western Roads Upgrades;
- Expansion of Lara Prison Precinct;
- Various Level Crossing Removals throughout inner and outer Metropolitan areas;
- Kilmore-Wallan Bypass;
- Geelong Ring Road;
- Melbourne Metro Rail Project;
- Outer Metropolitan Ring projects;
- Aborted East-West Tunnel project; and
- Melbourne Airport Rail Link.
The process may seem straightforward when explained by an authority or the initial offer of compensation fair but it is often, after skilled investigation, not the case. Independent professional advice from solicitors, valuers and others experienced in compulsory acquisition is necessary for any claimant to ensure losses are properly assessed and claimed. The cost of retaining professional advisers can be recovered from the authority.
Rennick & Gaynor can help you from negotiating the terms on which the authority may enter or occupy your land and monitoring its compliance with its obligations, to retaining experts to assess your entitlements to compensation, e.g. rent or property valuation, town planning, property restoration, property relocation and other issues to submission of your claim and negotiating an out of court settlement and, if necessary, litigating your compensation claim against the authority.