Compulsory Acquisition – What It Is & What You Need to Know

Compulsory acquisition – also called resumption – is the term used to describe a situation where the government acquires land from homeowners, leaseholders or businesses in order to use that land for public use such as parks or infrastructure (e.g. roads or rail projects). If your land is acquired in this way, you will be legally due compensation. To maximise how much compensation you receive, it can be helpful to involve compulsory acquisition lawyers.

FAQs About Compulsory Acquisition

Compulsory acquisition can be a troubling experience that involves a lot of complex legal issues. Here are some answers to common questions compulsory acquisition lawyers often get from clients:

Will it involve hefty legal bills?

Not, it shouldn’t cost you anything, as if you own the property in question, the work of compulsory acquisition lawyers will be borne by the acquiring authority. All legal expertise spent on the preparation and negotiation of your case will be free for you, even if you do not win.

Is it possible to sell?

As your compulsory acquisition lawyers will advise you, if your property is in either the pre-acquisition or acquisition stages, you need permission from the acquiring authority to sell your property, enter into a new lease or undergo renovations.

Will court be required?

It’s very unlikely that you will need to go to court, but you should have compulsory acquisition lawyers on your side just in case. Usually these situations are settled outside of the court system.

Can you prevent compulsory acquisition on your land?

No, you cannot prevent it, but you can do your due diligence when buying a new property by checking to see if there is a Public Acquisition Overlay (PAO) on your contract of sale. Acquiring authorities must apply a PAO to the land under a planning scheme before embarking upon the process of compulsory acquisition. Other sources of news on upcoming government developments are the local council, as well as local residents who may be in the know.

What is the process of compulsory acquisition in Victoria?

  • A notice is published in the Government Gazette, claiming the land for the authority.
  • An offer of compensation in made within 14 days of publishing the claim.
  • 2 months must go by before the process of compulsory acquisition begins.
  • As soon as they’re notified, land owners must get legal advice from compulsory acquisition lawyers.
  • Authority takes possession of land used as principal place of residence or business no sooner than 3 months after the date of acquisition. You can stay in the property for these 3 months rent-free. 

What if you don’t agree with the offer of compensation?

This is where you need help from your compulsory acquisition lawyers to form a case as to why you deserve more money in compensation. You can, however, make a counter offer – a notice of claim – to the acquiring authority within 3 months of the first offer. This will usually result in an agreement, but if it doesn’t, the case will come before the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal for amounts $400,000 or less, or the Supreme Court for $400,000 and over.

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