East-west link: Home compensation offer ‘inadequate’

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The Weekly Review Moonee ValleyEast-west link: Home compensation offer ‘inadequate’ Sue Hewitt 3 November

Many residents whose houses are to be acquired to make way for the east-west link have been shocked by the inadequate compensation offered, but all is not lost, a lawyer says.

Residents could take the money now but legally reject the offer and negotiate more compensation later, Manisha Blencowe of Slater and Gordon said.

Homeowners had the right to get an advance on the compensation offer – which would be paid within a month – while formally rejecting the amount, she said.

This gave residents the benefit of getting cash now while continuing to negotiate a larger compensation payment, she said.

She urged residents to get legal advice quickly, although they had three months to respond to the offer.

She said residents in Moonee Valley and inner-Melbourne suburbs affected by the toll road had recently received the compensation offers and many were “very disappointed” in the amounts.

She said the Linking Melbourne Authority’s compensation was made up of several components, including the market value of the property, and homeowners could get an independent valuation.

But there were several intangible components, including compensation for the stress of having a property compulsorily acquired, she said.

More compensation was due for the disturbance caused by having to move, and could cover the stamp duty that had to be paid on a replacement property, employing advisers to find a replacement property, and moving costs, she said.

Some properties could be deemed to have a “special value” above market valuation, such as those where the owner runs a home business that is near a client, making the property more valuable, she said.

“You have to maximise the compensation,” she said.

“Some residents face a cruel situation; they have lost their property and what they have been offered is not enough to buy a replacement property.”

She said residents still faced uncertainty because of the state election and Labor’s promise to abandon the project if it won.

The authority effectively became the landlord of 102 properties under the compulsory acquisition process early last month.

It promised to allow residents to continue to live there for peppercorn rent.

Ms Blencowe said people who bought and moved early would miss out on the benefit of staying in their home for $1 a month, until the authority took full possession in August or September next year.

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