With Council’s recent confirmation that properties along Maud Street and Sugar Road are to be acquired to facilitate upgrades to road and pedestrian infrastructure, affected residents and business will soon be thrust into the foreign world of compulsory acquisitions (also known as ‘resumptions’).
What should you do if you are contacted by Council?
Firstly, it is important to confirm with Council whether it is offering an early acquisition of your property. Ordinarily, your right to be compensated by Council for the value of your land and other reasonably incurred costs (called ‘disturbance costs’) only chrysalises once the land is formally acquired – which requires approval from the relevant State Government Minister following the issue of a ‘Notice of Intention to Resume’ by Council.
In some circumstances however, Council will negotiate to acquire property in advance of a formal resumption. Where that happens, it is important to confirm with Council (in writing) that although a formal acquisition has not yet occurred, Council will nonetheless assess compensation according to the principles in the Acquisition of Land Act.
Those principles include an obligation for Council to compensate you for reasonable legal and valuation fees incurred in connection with preparing your claim for compensation.
Secondly, take some time to consider your options as dispassionately as possible. Learning that Council has a land requirement for your property is often shocking and can be overwhelming – but making a spur of the moment decision to accept the first compensation figure offered by Council, or even worse, to relocate immediately, can have long lasting consequences.
You will need to weigh the factors both for and against negotiating an early acquisition with Council. An early acquisition may give a greater degree of certainty as to your timeframe for relocation, but that should be weighed against losing the ability to formally object to the taking of your land at a later date. There are a number of factors, both positive and negative, that may be relevant to your particular circumstances.
Thirdly, seek legal advice. Most property owners are unlucky to be involved with even one compulsory acquisition during their lifetime. The process can be complicated, and there is a reason why the Acquisition of Land Act requires a constructing authority like Council to compensate a property owner for their reasonable legal fees.