The Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) are in the process of upgrading and duplicating 35.6 km of the Rockhampton – Yeppoon Road on the Capricorn Coast. DTMR have started contacting owners regarding the initial stages of the development and if any land will need to be resumed.
Earlier this month, Rees R & Sydney Jones Solicitors' Melanie Findlay and Matthew Dunlop hosted an information session for residents to educate them on the resumption and compensation processes that may be available to them.
Any landowner who expects to experience genuine hardship as a result of any future state road project may approach DTMR for early acquisition. Electing to pursue early acquisition involves selling the property to DTMR for market value and most if not all of the associated costs of the sale.
The benefit of entering an early acquisition arrangement is that the landowner can be compensated all at once for the resumption of the land. This may be appealing to some landowners, but not all. For example, if land is sold and the project does not go ahead, a landowner does not automatically regain their property. It may also be several years before construction may start on any project.
Notice of Intention to Resume
Any resumption of land in Queensland must be carried out and compensated pursuant to the Acquisition of Land Act 1967 (Qld) ('Act').
Pursuant to the 'Act', the resuming authority must publish a Notice of Intention to Resume, a copy should be sent to the landowner. From this date an entry will appear on the property's title search, and it is from this time that landowners are able to claim compensation for the resumption.
Landowners can recover compensation for a range of losses resulting from a resumption, including:
Market value of the property being resumed;
Reasonable removal expenses;
Loss of profits from any business interruption;
The costs associated with replacing the property (eg. legal fees, brokerage fees, financial costs, stamp duty, etc);
The costs associated with connecting utilities to any replacement land;
Other out-of-pocket expenses as a consequence of the resumption (eg. school uniforms for children having to attend new schools, etc);
Legal, valuation, and other professional costs associated with preparing a claim for compensation.
It is important for landowners to know that only legal, valuation, and other professional costs associated with preparing the claim between the date of the Notice of Intention to Resume and the date of lodging the claim form may be recovered. Whilst it can be negotiated, there is no legal entitlement for such costs outside of that timeframe to be compensated.
Once an appropriately detailed claim form is lodged with DTMR, any previous offer made by DTMR may be paid as an advance on the compensation amount within 90 days of lodgement. After that the parties proceed to negotiate to resolve the difference between the landowners claimed amount of compensation and the advance already paid. If the parties cannot resolve the balance, the matter may be referred to the Land Court of Queensland.
Lessons for Landowners
The plans for the Rockhampton-Yeppoon Road upgrade have not been finalised, so at this stage it is unclear when any confirmed details regarding the project can be provided to landowners. Landowners are encouraged to take the following steps in order to protect their interests:
Keep a diary of all conversations with the resuming authorities and their representatives;
If any offers or promises are made verbally by the resuming authority or their representatives, confirm it in writing immediately;
In regard to any expected business losses, ensure your tax returns and business records are up-to-date;
Keep up-to-date photographs of any infrastructure or other characteristics of the land expected to be resumed;
When a Notice of Intention to Resume is issued over a portion of your land, arrange for a licence to occupy so you can continue using; and of course
Seek professional advice.
Our Energy, Environment and Agribusiness Team are here to help.