Who Pays Your Costs in an Expropriation?
Whether you ‘saw it coming’ or an expropriating authority approaches you unexpectedly, when you receive notice that your property is the subject of an expropriation, it can be somewhat confusing, particularly surrounding your compensation for the property and other costs.
While you are entitled to negotiate with the expropriating authority to try to find a mutually acceptable level of compensation, it’s often not easy to account for all of the costs, particularly when business and tenant interests are involved.
But there is one cost that, while you may not necessarily incur it, you are well advised to do so. Even in what seems like a very straight-forward expropriation, when seemingly reasonable offers are made for a property, land owners should always seek legal advice from a firm or legal representative who is well-versed in expropriation cases, before taking any action.
This can be quite daunting if you’re unexpectedly contacted by and expropriating authority and suddenly face a potentially contentious, drawn-out process and the legal fees that go with it.
The good news is that the Province of Ontario’s Expropriations Act obligates the expropriating authority to pay all the reasonable legal and professional costs for the owner of the property being expropriated.
What Costs are Covered by the Expropriating Authority?
Even if you settle an expropriation before it goes into the formal expropriation process, you will very likely incur costs of legal advice and representation as well as the cost of a property appraiser, all of which should be paid for by the authority.
In more complex cases, you may need to engage other professional experts, including business appraisers, engineers and land-use planners, to determine the fair market value of your property and/or your overall compensation for the expropriation, and their reasonable fees and costs should be awarded.
htIf you are a business owner, or have a business owner as a tenant, any labour costs incurred by the business to deal with an expropriation claim should be reimbursed by the authority.
Are There any Costs Not Paid by the Expropriating Authority?
Generally speaking, all your reasonable legal, professional and other applicable costs incurred due to an expropriation will be paid by the expropriating authority.
That means the costs incurred to determine the fair market value of your property, and to determine damages and other costs incurred due to the expropriation are all covered by the authority.
However, while you have the right to oppose an expropriation and, if so, to request a Hearing of Necessity to determine whether the expropriation of the property is “fair, sound and reasonably necessary”, the expropriating authority is only bound by the Expropriations Act to reimburse $200 of your costs incurred in requesting and taking part in the Hearing of Necessity or any other costs due to opposing the expropriation.
It’s important to also note that, even if the Hearing Report that is produced following a Hearing of Necessity recommends against an expropriation, the expropriation approving authority may still proceed with the expropriation, regardless of the costs you incurred and the fact that you are only compensated $200.
Do I have to Pay to Retain Legal Counsel?
That depends on which legal counsel you choose. First, as mentioned, you should work with a legal team that has a significant amount of experience in expropriations in Ontario.
Regardless of their experience the legal representative you choose may ask for consultation fees which may not be covered by the Expropriations Act.
Bisceglia and Associates provide completely free consultation to prospective clients to help ensure they are well informed about their rights as landowners and the options available to them.