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New requirements for government authorities compulsorily acquiring land in NSW

13 August 2019
A recent review of the Property Acquisition Standards has resulted in changes in the way NSW Government authorities acquire land in NSW by compulsory acquisition. All agencies which acquire land under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 (NSW) are required to comply with the revised Standards.

First issued in 2017, the Property Acquisition Standards ("Standards") aim to improve clarity for property owners through transparency of process and consistency across acquiring authorities (such as Transport for NSW, Roads and Maritime Services and local councils).

The Standards continue to be read together with the minimum requirements, which are available on the Centre for Property Acquisition's website.

The updated Standards consist of five key pillars which each acquiring authority must comply with when seeking to compulsorily acquire land in NSW.


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

a) During the statutory six month negotiation period, acquiring authorities must make a reasonable effort to meet face-to-face with impacted property owners. 

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

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

a) Prior to commencing negotiations, acquiring authorities must provide impacted property owners with clear and concise information about the acquisition process and their rights and obligations. 

b) Acquiring authorities must issue property owners with a letter advising of the acquiring authority’s statutory obligation to make a genuine attempt to acquire the land by agreement, and that the minimum six month negotiation period commences when the property owner receives the letter. 

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

a) Acquiring authorities must provide an appropriately trained primary point of contact to help residential property owners navigate the acquisition process. 

b) Acquiring authorities must provide an appropriately trained person to provide timely and accurate information to the community on all relevant infrastructure projects that require property acquisitions.

c) Acquiring authorities must ensure that all personal or commercially sensitive information is managed safely and securely.


4. The acquisition process will be consistent across projects and acquiring authorities. 

a) Any valuation commissioned by an acquiring authority must be consistent with Valuation and Property Standards jointly issued by the Australian Property Institute and the Property Institute of New Zealand.

b) Acquiring authorities 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. 


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

a) Acquiring authorities must capture and store accurate, comprehensive and current data for all property acquisition activity. 

b) Acquiring authorities must report as required to the Centre for Property Acquisition on acquisition activity. 

c) Acquiring authorities 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.

Further Reading