Land Acquisition 101
What is land acquisition?
Land acquisition is a process whereby the state acquires your land from you. However, this can only be done if:
- The acquisition is done in accordance with the law governing a land acquisition exercise; or
- Where you are adequately compensated for the compulsory acquisition of your land.
The compulsory acquisition of a privately owned land is governed by the Land Acquisition Act 1960 (‘the Act’) and the Land Acquisition Rules 2017.
The land acquisition process
- State authority makes an application to acquire the land for:
- public purposes;
- economic development which is beneficial to the public or a specific class of the public; or
- Mining/ residential/ agricultural/ commercial/ industrial/ recreational/ any combination of the purposes mentioned.
- The State authority then publishes a notice of intention to acquire the land in Government Gazette and at the same time inform the public about the publication.
- Once that is done, the State Director will notify authorizes the State authority to enter and survey the land.
- Once the survey is completed, then Land administrator will prepare a plan and list of lands to be acquired and submit it to the State authority.
- State authority will then decide which land is to be acquired. Once that is done, they will make a declaration and publish it in the Government Gazette.
- The land administrator will then mark out the land intended for acquisition and register it under any relevant document of title.
- The land administrator then gives notice to public, occupier, registered proprietor, any person who has registered interest or any person whom the Land administrator believes to have an interest in the land, according to the prescribed manner in the Act and then fixes date to hear the claims for compensation.
- Parties who have an interest in the land must submit evidence to back up their claim to the Land administrator.
- An inquiry will be conducted by the Land administrator to value and assess the amount of compensation to be awarded to each claim.
- The Land administrator will then notify the parties about the award
- Once the written award is served to the relevant parties, the Land administrator will:
- Take possession of the land by serving a notice to the occupiers of the land, asking them to vacate the land; and
- Serve a notice to demand the holder of the document of title to surrender the title to him.
The factors in determining the amount of compensation awarded
Factors that are considered
- The market value of the land;
- Any change in the value of other lands the owner has as a result of the acquisition;
- Any damage or negative effects sustained by the owner and/or his other lands as a result of the acquisition;
- Expenses incurred; and
- Work was done on a portion of the acquired land which benefits its adjacent unacquired lands.
Factors that are not considered
- The time it took to acquire the land;
- The keenness of the parties to part with the land;
- Any damage to the land caused by strangers;
- Any depreciation/increase in land value post-acquisition; and
- Any improvements to the land acquired unless such improvement is necessary for the maintenance of the buildings on the land.
Available remedies if landowners are dissatisfied with the compensation awarded
What happens if you are not satisfied with the amount of compensation awarded? You can actually appeal the decision to the High Court. The process is as follows:
- You have 6 weeks from the time the award was made to submit a claim to the Land Administrator.
- The matter will then be referred to the High Court for determination.
- The court will two assessors to assist the court in determining the amount that should be awarded to you.
It must be noted that while the Act says that court will then determine the amount of compensation based on the assessor’s opinion, this rule was struck out by the court in Semenyih Jaya Sdn Bhd v Pentadbir Tanah Daerah Hulu Langat & Another Case (At this present moment, the court is free to decide whether to accept the assessor’s opinion as gospel truth).
This is a final recourse for your claim i.e. you cannot pursue the matter further even if you are still unsatisfied with the compensation awarded by the High Court.
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