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Real Estate Dispute Resolution–Expropriation

Case Study | Mar 18, 2015

The Problem

Our clients ran a small trucking company. The office and yard where they kept their trucks and equipment were conveniently located beside the highway. They leased part of their property to a neighbouring business for parking. The Ministry of Transportation served them with a Notice of Expropriation because the Province was widening the highway and required part of their lands to do so. The Ministry also provided an Offer to Sell Agreement for the acquisition of the land signed by the Ministry. Our clients were unsure of their rights and came to Lawrences for help.

Our Approach

On reviewing the Notice of Expropriation, we determined that the proposed widening would not prevent our clients from operating their business, but it would take the majority of the lands they leased to their neighbour and all of the entrance landscaped gardens plus some signage on their property. They would also need to construct a new driveway with a sufficient truck-turning radius for their own continued business operations. The Offer to Sell had two proposed prices:

  1. a fixed price for the lands and a Full and Final Release, with no further negotiations permitted, or
  2. a lower price and permission for the owners to accept a prepayment while a claim for a larger amount could proceed.

We advised our clients to accept the second option, since their claim was much more extensive than just the (low) dollar value per acre for the lands the Ministry was offering. We did not consider it worthwhile to conduct a “Hearing of Necessity” to ensure that the taking of the land was “fair, sound, and reasonably necessary,” but we did advise them to do the following:

  • Retain a qualified real estate appraiser for an opinion on the value of the land to be taken, as well as any loss in value of our clients’ remaining property
  • Claim for rent lost through their inability to rent the parking area to their neighbour
  • Claim for the construction costs of a new driveway and truck-turning access
  • Claim for business losses during the construction and any further effects upon the business operations due to the smaller lot size
  • Claim compensation for the loss of trees, landscaping and signage
  • Claim for the costs of their legal, appraisal, and other experts

The Result

Our clients accepted the second Offer to Sell price with a prepayment. We then successfully negotiated on their behalf for further compensation for all of the above claims, resulting in a total overall claim of almost three times the initial offer and full reimbursement of our clients’ legal, appraisal, and experts’ costs.

© 2015 Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP

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