Compulsory Acquisition and Land Surveying

Is your land well and truly yours? Private ownership of a land is an important factor in our society, but in many cases, the government can obtain use of your land. This is called land acquisition, land resumption, compulsory acquisition, or compulsory purchase expropriation, and refers to eminent domain: the government’s right to seize privately-owned land for public use.

While this situation is not terribly common, if your property is in an area that is designated for a public works project, such as a roadway, railroad, or public utility, you just might find yourself face to face with land resumption.

How it works

The idea of eminent domain is not a new one. It dates back hundreds of years to Europe, and has been instilled in the governments of most modern nations. The Australian Constitution permits the Commonwealth Parliament to assume ownership of private land when necessary for public purposes, but legislation also demands that a true purpose must be verified—in other words the government cannot simply take land for the sake of doing so. Interestingly, the term “resumption” comes from the notion that acquired land is actually going back to it’s original source: being “resumed” as property of the Crown.

Ideally, you’ll never have to deal with state resumption of your property. You may not be pleased with the need to give up your land, but unfortunately, consent of the private owner is not required. However,  with compulsory acquisition you are entitled to compensation. Compensation is ultimately left to the courts to decide, but typically is monetary in nature. Generally, these types of situations are resolved with a favourable outcome.

Dealing with land resumption? Here’s what you can do

According to government web information, most land acquisitions are handled through negotiation and agreement. The Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 promotes this approach, and in these cases the acquiring authority and land owner come to an agreement in terms of compensation. The acquiring authority (the state) is in charge of covering the reasonable costs associated with these negotiations on behalf of the landowner, including expenses for professional valuation and legal advice.

Should the two parties fail to reach a mutual agreement, the Governor of NSW can then approve compulsory acquisition of the land. The Valuer General will then determine the amount of compensation to be paid to the former land owner.

Professional valuation

The Act tells us that, during negotiations, the property owner can receive funds from the acquiring party for professional valuation. This can–and should–include a professional, accurate land survey. In addition to a property appraisal, a detailed land survey equips you with the essential information about your land. This can help ensure that you’re receiving a fair price for compensation, and also can dispel any doubts about the legal boundaries of the land to be acquired.

Leslie & Thompson are NSW surveyors who are able to offer the highest quality identification surveys. Leaders in the industry, we bring years of survey experience coupled with a commitment to unwavering excellence. Our identification surveys can assist you in cases of compulsory acquisition / resumption, helping you to receive appropriate compensation for your property.

Need to discuss surveying or land mapping needs? Our friendly team is ready to assist you.