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What happens when they want your property for new infrastructure?

Posted by John Leeson on 30 October 2014

Major infrastructure projects planned around Queensland lead a spate of compulsory property acquisitions and affected land owners are being warned to ensure they receive their full entitlements.

In one of the latest examples, Brisbane City Council announced in early October that it would resume 38 properties on Lytton Road as part of the Wynnum Road corridor upgrade.

Leeson Valuers Partner, John Leeson said owners of affected properties on Lytton Road would know about the acquisitions by now and should already be seeking advice.  Two of the affected owners have already contacted John Leeson, a recognised expert in compensation valuations, to seek preliminary advice.

The acquisitions are scheduled to take place from mid-2016 through to 2017 with construction expected to begin in early 2018, according to Brisbane City Council.  Land holders must be vigilant in getting the right entitlements. They can vary significantly depending on the acquisition and the timing.

Governments sometimes need to acquire, or resume, land owned by private individuals and businesses to make way for projects such as road and rail expansions, new electricity transmission lines, gas or oil pipelines, or public buildings like schools or hospitals.

When this happens, the first step in the process is that the acquiring authority must serve a notice of intention to resume, which is an official document. That's not necessarily a letter of offer for compensation.

Compulsory land acquisitions are subject to a legal process where affected owners have statutory and common law rights. They have three years from the gazettal date of resumption to come to a compensation agreement with the acquiring authority.

"It's better to get advice early rather than wait to a later time," John Leeson said. "The reason is that once that [three year] statutory period expires they are exempt from making claims." 

An acquiring authority can make an offer but typically the owner must obtain their own legal and valuation advice and put forward a compensation claim. That includes the market value of the property resumed and also claims for extensive disturbance, which depend on each individual case.

Legal and valuation advice costs form part of the disturbance claim, so it makes sense to get the best advice available, explained John Leeson.  One property owner may receive a different compensation figure from their next door neighbour even if the market value of their properties is identical, he said.

John Leeson said land resumption compensation valuation assessments were a niche area that involved both valuation and legal advice, and it was important that land owners approached valuers and solicitors that specialised in the areas and worked well together.  "You need to get the right people to do the right job because you only get one chance," John Leeson said.

Leeson Valuers have acted for well in excess of 100+ land owners in recent years who have had part or all of their property resumed by various state or local government authorities, and are considered experts in the compensation valuation assessment field.  Due to John Leeson’s experience, he is usually able to achieve maximum market value and disturbance item compensation for the disposed land owner.

Mr Leeson also said that the best outcomes are generally achieved by negotiation, and that is where an experienced expert valuer is extremely important.

Author: John Leeson
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