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Hardship Guide for Compulsory Acquisition

Oct 23, 2020
Flo Mitchell
Updated May 17, 2024

Hardship applications are useful if your land has been zoned for compulsory acquisition to occur at a time in the future, but you want to sell your land now. Typically, the government acquires land on its timeline, which can extend over several years under the Just Terms Act.

Land zoned for compulsory acquisition, such as public infrastructure or public parks, can be difficult to sell on the open market. Typically, potential buyers don’t want to buy a home that’s zoned to be forcibly purchased from them by a government authority.

Fortunately, the law outlines the process of hardship applications which allows landowners to force the government to purchase their land within 90 days.

When We Need It

A hardship application allows landowners to compel the government to purchase their land within 90 days. This is crucial if the property has been zoned for future compulsory acquisition and the owner needs to sell it immediately.

What Is Hardship?

To be granted hardship, the property owner must demonstrate either an inability to sell the land or an inability to sell it at market value. This can be proven through:

  • A letter from a real estate agent explaining why a sales campaign would be inappropriate.

  • Proof from a licensed real estate agent or property marketing website (e.g., Domain) showing an unsuccessful attempt to sell the land.

Additionally, the property owner must need to sell the land or part of it without delay due to:

  • Pressing domestic, social, or personal reasons (e.g., needing to move interstate for work).

  • The need to avoid loss of income.

  • The need to avoid a substantial reduction in income.

An unwillingness to sell is not considered an inability to sell the land.

Hardship Decision

The acquiring government authority, such as Roads and Maritime Services, will review your hardship application and decide on it. Compensation for your land must consider any special value, loss due to severance or disturbance, and disadvantages resulting from relocation. Typically, this includes stamp duty on the land's value and around $81,000 for relocation costs.

If your hardship application is rejected, it can be reviewed. Another possible outcome is that the acquiring authority may remove the compulsory acquisition designation on your land, reinstating its previous zoning.

Legal Costs

Legal fees are recoverable from the date your hardship application is accepted. These will be reimbursed by the government authority acquiring your land.

Reviewing a Hardship Decision

If your hardship application is rejected, it can be appealed to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE). The review application must be submitted within 28 days of the rejection. An independent reviewer will assess your eligibility for hardship and make a final decision. The independent reviewer may either overturn the decision, requiring the acquiring authority to acquire your land within 90 days, or confirm the decision, meaning the acquiring authority does not need to acquire your land early. The reviewer's decision is final.

Who Can Apply for Hardship Acquisition?

Property owners whose land has been selected for future acquisition due to compulsory acquisition can apply for early acquisition due to hardship. To qualify, you must demonstrate that delaying the acquisition would cause you significant hardship.

Compensation for compulsory acquisition includes considering the special value of the land, severance, disturbance, and relocation disadvantages. Legal fees are recoverable from the date of acceptance of your hardship application. For more information, you can visit the government’s website on early acquisition due to hardship.

For expert advice and assistance with compulsory acquisition in Australia, contact FM Legal. We offer comprehensive legal advice for compulsory acquisition and can connect you with a remote lawyer if needed. Our experienced team is here to help you navigate the complexities of compulsory acquisitions and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

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