Pursuant to the provisions of the Victorian Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986 government departments can reclaim private land for the purpose of public interest. This can involve acquisition and/or demolition of a property.
Generally speaking, an acquisition/demolition is only to be for public interest purposes, such as the construction of roads, railways and other infrastructure facilities. In practice, the government departments likely to be involved in this process can include VicRoads, the local council, the Water corporation, a level crossing project and so on.
In Victoria, compulsory acquisition/demolition usually stems from the government’s Public Acquisition Overlay (PAO) plan. The land in this plan is reserved and may be expropriated for public purposes in the future. If the government has any infrastructure plans, the houses in the relevant area will be included in the local government’s PAO plan. In other words, as long as your house is in the PAO plan, it may be forcibly acquired/demolished by the government.
It is generally difficult for a property owner to oppose the compulsory acquisition/demolition, however they have a right to seek compensation. A property owner can either choose to accept the government’s compensation offer, or they can choose to disagree and make a counter offer to the government. Since the government will also compensate home-owners for reasonable legal fees it is strongly recommended that they obtain a sworn valuation report on the property and consult a legal practitioner to before engaging in the negotiation/counter-offer process. If agreement cannot be reached on compensation, the case can be sent to VCAT or the Supreme Court of Victoria for a final decision.
Please feel free to contact one of our experienced Property lawyers to discuss how we can assist you if your property has been compulsorily acquired.