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Five easy steps to check your entitlements after the $50,000 NSW land acquisition reforms

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Leading compulsory acquisition law firm Slater and Gordon has received a number of calls from residents about their entitlements, following the NSW Government’s announcement of improvements to its land acquisition process.

The reforms include an increase of up to $75,000 for non-financial impact compensation (solatium) relating to residential property acquisitions.

Slater and Gordon Compulsory Acquisition Lawyer Vincent Butcher said there are five simple steps people can follow to see if they qualify for any additional payment.

“The first thing residents need to do is check the date of their acquisition,” Mr Butcher said.

“If their residential property was acquired after 26 February 2014, they are potentially eligible for increased compensation.

“The second thing people should do is make sure they are registered properly with the Office of State Revenue (OSR).

“The OSR is currently contacting residents, but it is expected to take some time for them to collate all the relevant contact details from all the various acquiring authorities of each project.

“The best and quickest option for residents is to contact and register with the OSR themselves, by visiting their website at http://www.osr.nsw.gov.au/solatium.”

Mr Butcher said the process may take at least a month.

“Once you’ve got in touch with the OSR, they will check and confirm your eligibility and advise you of the outcome promptly,” Mr Butcher said.

“If you are eligible, the OSR will calculate the amount owing to you and prepare a Deed of Release for you to sign.

“Remember this Deed is a legal document and you should always carefully consider what you are signing and get advice if you don’t understand.

“If no further information is required, the OSR will pay the amount owing to you without delay.”

Five easy steps to check your entitlements

  1. Check the Date of Acquisition: If your residential property was acquired between 26 February 2014 and 17 October 2016, it’s likely you’re eligible for extra compensation.
     
  2. Register with the Office of State Revenue (OSR): The OSR is contacting residents, but won’t be able to get in touch with you if your details aren’t up to date, which is possible considering you’ve just had to move. Register at: http://www.osr.nsw.gov.au/solatium
     
  3. Confirm Eligibility: Once you’ve got in touch with the OSR, they will check and confirm your eligibility and advise you of the outcome within approximately 21 days.
     
  4. Deed of Release: If you are eligible, the OSR will calculate the amount owing to you and prepare a Deed of Release for you to sign. Remember this Deed of Release is a legal document and you should always carefully consider what you are signing and get advice if you don’t understand.
     
  5. Payment: If no further information is required, the OSR will pay you within seven days.

FAQ: How do the NSW land acquisition reforms affect me?

Question: What is ‘solatium’?

Answer: Solatium is compensation for the non-financial disadvantage paid to those who were living in a property that is subject to compulsory acquisition. This is to compensate for the personal disadvantage and hassle of having to relocate and is in addition to payment for the market value of the property and for disturbance claims (disturbance loss includes moving costs, stamp duty, etc).

Question: How is solatium calculated?

Answer: Solatium is calculated with reference to the personal impact involved in uprooting your life. Factors that can impact the amount of solatium received include the length of time you lived in your property and how long you were able to remain in the property following notice of acquisition.

Not everyone receives the maximum amount of solatium when their property is acquired. If you received less than the maximum, you will be entitled to a pro-rata amount of the increased maximum of $75,000. For example, if you received 50 per cent of the previous maximum amount, you will receive 50 per cent of the increased maximum of $75,000 (less what you have already received). The Office of State Revenue offers this helpful breakdown:

  • Date property was exchanged 20 March 2015
  • Maximum solatium for that period $26,260
  • Amount received 40% of $26,260 (pro rata amount) $10,504
  • Amount payable if maximum amount received is $75,000 - $26,260 = $48,740
  • Additional amount you will receive ($48,740 x40%) = $19,496

If you received the maximum, you’re entitled to $75,000 less the amount you’ve already received.

Question: Are businesses eligible for the compensation increases or rent back payments?

Unfortunately businesses are not eligible for solatium increases or rent back payments. Solatium is only payable to people who relocated from their primary place of residence due to acquisition.

Question: Is there a deadline?

There is no deadline to register with the Office of State Revenue, but it is better to do so sooner rather than later.

Question: How long will the process take?

The Office of State Revenue is currently contacting eligible residents, but it is expected to take some time for them to collate all the relevant contact details from the various acquiring authorities. For that reason, it is best to register your interest with the Office of State Revenue yourself by visiting http://www.osr.nsw.gov.au/solatium.

Once you’ve registered with the Office of State Revenue, they will review your eligibility and advise you of the outcome within approximately 21 days. Once you’ve signed a Deed of Release, payment will be processed within seven days if no further information is required. All up, this process will take at least a month.