Changes to land acquisition process

On 6 August 2019, the Office of Local Government issued Circular No 19-16 to implement new property acquisition standards for councils to apply to future acquisitions.  The standards provide:

Property owners will be treated fairly and with empathy and respect.

  • During the 6 month negotiation period, councils must make a reasonable effort to meet face-to-face with impacted property owners.

  • In determining the compensation payable for market value, councils must consider any applicable evidence supplied by the property owner. Where there is reasonable evidence to support it, councils should resolve any minor discrepancies in market valuation in favour of the property owner.

Property owners will be provided with clear information about their rights.

  • Prior to commencing negotiations, councils must provide impacted property owners with clear and concise information about the acquisition process and their rights and obligations under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.

  • Councils must issue property owners with a letter advising of councils’ statutory obligation to make a genuine attempt to acquire the land by agreement, and that the minimum 6 month negotiation period commences when the property owner receives the letter.

Property owners will be supported throughout the acquisition process with assistance tailored to meet individual circumstances.

  • Councils must provide an appropriately trained primary point of contact to undertake the Personal Manager function by helping residential property owners navigate the acquisition process.

  • Councils must provide an appropriately trained person to undertake the Community Place Manager function by providing timely and accurate information to the community on all relevant infrastructure projects that require property acquisitions.

  • Councils must ensure that all personal or commercially sensitive information is managed safely and securely.

The acquisition process will be consistent across projects.

  • Any valuation commissioned by a council must be consistent with Valuation and Property Standards jointly issued by the Australian Property Institute and the Property Institute of New Zealand.

  • Councils must exchange valuation reports with property owners as soon as practicable after both parties have received their final respective valuations, and where the property owner is willing to do so.

The Government will monitor and report publicly on the effectiveness of the land acquisition process.

  • Councils must capture and store accurate, comprehensive and current data for all property acquisition activity.

  • Councils must report as required to the Centre for Property Acquisition on acquisition activity.

  • Councils must invite property owners to participate in the acquisition feedback process managed by the Centre for Property Acquisition at a time and through a channel which is appropriate for the property owner.

 Author: Peter Barakate

Leading partner: Craig Munter