A leading NSW compulsory acquisition lawyer has welcomed the NSW Government’s proposal to demolish and buy back properties contaminated with loose-fill asbestos, but said more information was required to ensure residents’ rights were protected.
Slater and Gordon senior compulsory acquisition lawyer Vincent Butcher said while the State Government’s plan to introduce a buy-back, demolition and rebuild scheme was a step in the right direction, there were still many questions about residents’ rights remaining.
“It is positive to see the NSW Government intervening early to ensure that properties found to contain deadly loose-fill asbestos are demolished as soon as possible,” Mr Butcher said.
“The Government’s plan to provide emergency financial assistance to those families who are required to move out of their contaminated property will be welcome relief, however we need more information about the buy-back scheme and we need to understand how financial assistance will be calculated and provided.
“We need confirmation that any buy-back scheme includes provisions for homeowners to be able to seek compensation for loss suffered as a result of the acquisition, legal assistance during the process, as well as payments to help with the relocation to suitable accommodation.”
Mr Butcher said the scheme could likely become one of the largest in the country. Currently, the Mr Fluffy voluntary buy-back scheme being undertaken in the ACT was the biggest residential acquisition scheme.
“Only a small number of properties have so far been found to contain loose-fill asbestos, but as agencies continue to investigate homes in 26 NSW local government areas, the number is likely to grow,” he said.
“That is why it is crucial all of these details are determined early so that as the scheme grows larger, residents’ rights are not compromised or challenged during the process.
“We have already been contacted by a number of affected residents seeking advice on valuations and their entitlements.
“I would urge any affected landowner to seek independent legal advice, as compulsory acquisition legislation is complex and entitlements can be interpreted in a number of ways by acquiring authorities.”
Slater and Gordon are leaders in the property acquisition field and are currently acting for clients affected by both compulsory acquisition and voluntary purchase schemes including the NorthConnex and WestConnex in NSW and the North South Corridor Upgrade in South Australia.