As you may have heard, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) through its agents, is undertaking a widening of an 18-km stretch of Highway 401 through the GTA, with the addition of at least six (6) new traffic lanes, as reported here. The Highway 401 Expansion Project extends from the western part of the GTA in Mississauga over to Milton.
In order to accommodate the road widening, the MTO needs to acquire (or expropriate) land. The MTO is expropriating land from residential homeowners, commercial landlords, farmland, and otherwise. A question we often receive from property owners is: how will I be compensated?
The expropriating authority must service an Offer of Compensation on the property owner. The offer must include the amount of compensation payable to the property owner immediately without prejudice to a further payout of compensation if future damages result. As well, the authorities are required to produce an appraisal of the property. As such, the owner can accept the initial offer of compensation and then negotiate with the authorities about the balance of funds owing at a later date.
If the owner disagrees with the authorities assessment of market value or has other damages, a claim for compensation can be brought under the Expropriations Act to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) formerly the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The property owner can pursue various claims for compensation in addition to the market value of the proposed land taken, including but not limited to:
-Business losses resulting from the expropriation;
-Relocation costs (i.e., costs to move the business or property, real estate commissions and legal fees) directly resulting from the expropriation;
-Loss of goodwill (i.e., where a business has to shut down and has been operating in the same location for a long period of time if it cannot be relocated);
-Injurious affection (i.e., where the Owner’s use and enjoyment of the land are disrupted or where a partial expropriation negatively impacts the value of the remainder of the property).
How much are Legal Fees?
The purpose of the Expropriations Act in Ontario is to make the property owner “whole.” If the property owner were paid for the fair market value of their land and any other damages attributable to the expropriation but had to pay expensive legal fees from any settlement, the owner would not be made “whole.” As such, the Act requires that the authorities pay all reasonable legal and professional (i.e., appraisal, valuators, planners, etc.) fees, which ensures that the property owner is not out-of-pocket.
If your property is being expropriated, it is imperative that you consult with a lawyer. Call Goldstein Law – Expropriation Law Firm today. We often do not require any up-front retainers for expropriation-related matters.