When Government Construction Affects Your Property Value

Municipal Government Act Section 534; Public Works; Injurious Affections

Municipal Government Act Public Works Injurious Affection

All municipalities provide a wide range of infrastructure for the people who live there. For example, roads, bridges, pedestrian overpasses and interchanges for part of key elements needed for growing cities. Some of these projects directly impact the value of private property, including people’s homes. The Municipal Government Act section 534, requires all Alberta municipalities to compensate land owners for any loss of permanent value related to the infrastructure. The Act refers to this loss of value caused by these public works as injurious affections. Our lawyers, in both our Calgary and Edmonton offices, help defend your right to proper compensation. If you receive a notice (as described below), call the Kahane Law Office right away as you have a limited time to act. In Calgary, please call (403) 225-8810. For our Edmonton office please call (780) 571-8463.

What Is A Public Work?

The term “Public Works” is not defined in Municipal Government Act Section 534. As a consequence, the courts settle disputes as to what public works include. However, many infrastructure projects clearly fall within this category. For example, the following form part of the definition of public works for which the Act requires compensation for the loss of value on the completion of construction:

  • Roads;
  • Bridges;
  • Airports;
  • Overpasses;
  • Pedestrian Overpasses ;
  • Hospitals;
  • Traffic Signals
  • Transportation Hubs;
  • Rail or other Transit Lines
  • Electrical Transmission Lines;
  • Dams;
  • Municipal Buildings; and lastly
  • Schools.

What Is An Injurious Affection?

Municipal Government Act Section 534 specifically defines injurious affections in Alberta. The section address land value loss only. For consideration for compensation, a permanent reduction in the appraised value of land must occur. The reduction must related to the existence of the public work or structure. No claim exists under this legislation for the construction itself. This mean that the noise and dust caused by construction or erecting of the structure or public works does not fall under the consideration under this Act. Further, the use of the structure or public work also does not qualify as injurious affection. If you lack clarity if you qualify, please reach out to us and we assist in making the determination for you.

What To Do When You Receive A Municipal Government Act Section 534 Notice

If you receive a letter in the mail from the municipal government under the Act, you must act quickly. Under the act a land owner has 60 days from the date the municipality publishes notice of the end of construction of the public work. The letter states the date of the publishing to make that date easier to determine. In order to properly submit your claim, we recommend contacting us as soon as possible. If you decide to pursue the claim on your own, do so prior to the expire of this time limitation. This limitation period is significantly less than the two years allowed under the Limitations Act in Alberta. Without notice, landowners would need to follow public notices posted on a regular basis. This highlights the importance of keeping your address up to date at the land titles office.

Does Receiving Notice Automatically Mean You Receive Money?

The quick answer is no. Receiving notice from the municipality only forms part of the requirements set out in the Act. Two reasons exist that prevent people from receiving compensation. Firstly, in order to receive compensation, an absolute requirement is the filing of a claim as per the notice and the Act. Failing to due so, precludes compensation. Secondly, landowners only receive compensation if they demonstrate a permanent reduction in appraised value of the land. A temporary reduction of value, such as during construction, fails to meet this requirement.

Cost Of Municipal Government Act Section 534 Lawyers

With most legal matters, people always worry about the cost of legal representation. Kahane Law Office understands this concern. For this reason, we offer two options for making your claim under Municipal Government Act Section 534. If you suffer a injurious affection due to the construction of a public work or structure, we offer the following options:

Hour Billing Structure

This is the typical billing structure for most law firms. You retain the firm and pay a retainer. Your lawyer charges you an hourly fee for each 0.1 of an hour (for example, 0.1 of an hour is 0 to 6 minutes) they spend working on your matter. Each bill payment comes from the retainer and when the retainer is low, you add more money to the funds held in trust. In this billing model, you pay for an appraisal upfront. We add this amount to the compensation claimed.

Contingency Based Billing

Many people worry about hourly billing. A contingency model means that our firm only receives a percentage of what we collect on your behalf. The specific percentage depends on the stage of successful collection. For example, if we succeed in settling negotiations with the municipality without a hearing or trial, the percentage is lower than if we need to attend a tribunal or court. If we collect no compensation for you, you owe no legal fees. We review the details of this billing model with you before you commit to it. This is a popular option for pursuing Municipal Government Act Section 534 injurious affection claims against a municipality. In this billing model, we front the cost of the appraisal and receive repayment for it out of the compensation proceeds. Like hourly billing, we add this cost to the amount claimed as compensation.

Process For Claims For Injurious Affection

Before we start the actual process, we meet with you to review your situation and determine the strength of your claim. The process for a claim starts with the actual submission of the claim. We carefully draft the claim to best outline your losses. As a part of this process, we retain a real estate appraiser familiar with these types of matters. We then negotiate with the municipality advocating for your compensation. If necessary, we attend a tribunal to ensure proper compensation for your loss of value.

Hiring Lawyers For Your Municipal Government Act Section 534 Claim

If you receive notice, act right away. We require time to evaluate, prepare, appraise and draft the submission for your claim. Using case law, legislation, the appraisal and our experience, we properly submit your application for compensation under the Act. While our law firm includes offices in both Calgary and Edmonton, we have the ability to act for clients across Alberta. The easiest way to reach us is by a quick email. Please attach a copy of the notice (a photo is ok), your name, contact information and your property address. In addition, photos of the public work or structure from your property is helpful. Email us directly here. Alternatively, please call us. In Calgary or surrounding area, call us at 403-225-8810 or call us in and around Edmonton at 780-571-8463.