Expropriation: Finding the Real Property Value

Considering that the Expropriations Act of Ontario defines “expropriation” as “the taking of land without the consent of the owner by an expropriating authority in the exercise of its statutory powers”, having one’s property expropriated, especially if it involves the family home or is otherwise regularly used by the owner and/or tenants, can be physically and mentally stressful.

And that’s even before the property owner finds out the appraised market value, or "the amount that the land might be expected to realize if sold in the open market by a willing seller to a willing buyer", of the property, which is the amount the amount the expropriating authority is willing to pay in compensation for the property. The process of expropriation in Ontario means that you will not receive a compensation offer until most other matters related to the expropriation, including the property owner’s right to an inquiry, have been settled.

While the exact amount of compensation can itself be a source of concern from the moment the landowner is first notified about the expropriation, the appraisal of the property value is often made long after the first contact is made between the expropriating authority and the property owner.

The Expropriations Act of Ontario says that, once an expropriation plan has been registered, the registered owner of the property may elect to have the compensation assessed on one of the following dates:

(a) where there has been an inquiry, as of the date the notice of hearing was served;

(b) as of the date of the registration of the plan; or

(c) as of the date on which the owner was served with the notice of expropriation

For property owners, the election of the date on which the compensation is assessed can be crucial in receiving the highest value for their property.

However, the compensation assessment date is not the only critical factor in receiving full value. Regardless of which expropriation date the owner elects, the expropriating authority dispatches an appraiser to assess the value of the property. Following that valuation, an Appraisal Report is filed, upon which the expropriating authority bases its compensation offer.

Under the Expropriations Act, the land owner has the right to accept the compensation offer in full settlement of the expropriation, or choose to pursue additional compensation, either through negotiation with the expropriating authority, arbitration at the Ontario Municipal Board, or a combination of the two.

Finding the real property value in expropriation.

The Importance of Exercising the Right to Pursue Additional Compensation

Even when compensation offers seem fair, it’s in property owners’ best interests to pursue an independent appraisal of the value of the property to ensure they receive full value for the property.

While every case is different, the discrepancy between the compensation offer and the value at which a property is independently appraised can be significant.

In one expropriation case represented by Bisceglia & Associates, a property in Vaughan, Ontario, was independently appraised by Approved Appraisal Services.

The expropriating authority submitted a compensation offer of approximately $14 million. Following the independent appraisal, and an application to the Ontario Municipal Board to determine the level of compensation to be paid by the expropriating authority, the Board determined that the compensation due to the property owners, based on its market value, was approximately $25 million.

In addition to independent appraisals of market value, to realize the full value of compensation in any expropriation, property owners may also need legal and/or professional representation for compensation due to damages attributable to disturbances, damages for injurious affection and any special damages related to relocation. In addition, the property owner may need to be represented at expropriation hearings, the Board of Negotiation and/or the Ontario Municipal Board.

To learn more about your rights in an expropriation, contact us here at Bisceglia & Associates to schedule a no-charge consultation.