When the government seeks to claim your land, the consequences for you and your family can be life-changing. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your rights are protected by expert expropriation lawyers in Toronto.

The Supreme Court of Canada considers expropriation of land by the government one of the ultimate expressions of authority. As such, the government has a high threshold to meet in order to justify the expropriation. An expropriation lawyer in Toronto can help you protect your land if these strict standards are not met.

Additionally, expropriation lawyers in Toronto are able to help maximize the compensation that you would receive for your land during expropriation. Authorities rarely offer the full compensation you are entitled to under the Expropriations Act.

By building an expert team of land use planners, real estate appraisers, and business loss valuators, among others, Unified LLP will construct the strongest possible argument for higher compensation for your property. We are always willing to argue your case before the Ontario Land Tribunal if a fair settlement is not reached.

Additionally, the complexities and nuances of expropriation law are often difficult to determine. For instance, typically the expropriating authority is obligated to cover reasonable legal fees, appraisals, and other professional costs when land is being expropriated. That means that, more often than not, both professional and legal fees will be reimbursed by the authorities following the settlement of the claim.

Expropriation lawyers in Toronto dedicated to fighting for you and your family, business, and property

Being subjected to possible expropriation is both daunting and stressful. To have governmental authorities seize your property seemingly out of nowhere is hard to fathom. 

This can upend your business or home, permanently altering your life. 

As such, we approach every case with attention and care. We know what’s on the line, which is why we always take the time to understand your unique circumstances. Our approach is one that is measured, compassionate, caring, and diligent, ensuring that no detail is overlooked in your case. 

Combined with our expropriation lawyers’ deep knowledge and understanding of relevant expropriation law, we’re able to help you protect your land and/or get the maximum compensation possible. 

If your property is under threat of expropriation, get in touch with a Toronto expropriation lawyer today at Unified LLP to ensure your rights are protected.

Contact a Trusted Expropriation Lawyer Today

Expropriations are governed by specialized legislation that sets out the rights of governments and the rights of landowners. 

Expropriation law has over time been expanded via case law and precedents, some of which have been appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

As an experienced expropriation lawyer Toronto, the team at Unified LLP has extensive familiarity with the Expropriations Act in addition to the Municipal Act, Planning Act, environmental legislation, and all other relevant acts and legislation. 
Get in touch for a consultation – let us help you protect your rights. Unified LLP has years of experience representing private property owners and business owners in the Toronto area before the Tribunal and the courts in expropriation matters, helping them achieve the best outcome possible.

The expropriation process – inquiry by a property agent

The government will often appoint a property agent to contact property owners directly in an attempt to negotiate a “friendly” or “amicable” settlement and transaction. 

At this point, we recommend retaining counsel (with an expropriation lawyer Toronto) and a real estate appraiser before entering into any transactions or settlements. This will ensure that you’re receiving fair compensation for your property.

Notice of Application and Hearing of Notice

If an agreement is not reached with the property agent,  you will eventually receive a Notice of Application for Approval to Expropriate. This will be issued by the expropriating authority and will list the property that is to be taken.

Following receipt of the Notice, you have 30 days to request a Hearing of Necessity. The Hearing of Necessity is the only opportunity you’ll have as a property owner to challenge expropriation. The hearing will have the Inquiry Officer hear facts of the case and determine whether the expropriation is fair, sound, and reasonably necessary. 

This is your opportunity to challenge the expropriation (note, you can only challenge it based on the grounds of it being unfair, unsound, or unreasonable – you cannot question the objective of the expropriation itself). The Inquiry Officer does not render a judgment but rather a recommendation to the Approval Authority. The Approval Authority then considers the recommendation of the Inquiry Officer and renders a decision on whether to proceed with the expropriation. 

It’s also worth noting that this part of the process is not eligible for legal fee reimbursement beyond $200. That said, the inquiry does require that the entity looking to expropriate your property must present documentation and disclosure for inspection. The hearing can be used to delay the process and postpone the expropriation date in addition to potentially preventing the expropriation outright.

Plan of Expropriation, Notice of Expropriation, Notice of Possession

If the expropriation is approved, the authority must register a Plan of Expropriation on title to your property within three months.  

Following this, you will be served a Notice of Expropriation, Notice of Election and Notice of Possession.

The expropriating entity can now enter your land without your consent in order to perform a survey, etc..

The Notice of Election provides you three separate options for how market value will be assessed: from the date of the Notice of Inquiry, the date of registration of the plan of expropriation or the date of the service of the Notice of Expropriation. 

At least three months must elapse following the registration of the Plan of Expropriation before the expropriating entity can take possession of the land, except by agreement or court order.

The Section 25 Offer, Ontario Land Tribunal, Notice of Arbitration, Statement of Claim, Reimbursement of Costs, Appeals

Within 90 days of the registration of the Plan of Expropriation, the expropriating entity must make you an offer typically referred to as a Section 25 offer (see our FAQ for more information). 

This offer will take into account the valuation of the land but typically does not accurately assess business losses, opportunity costs, injurious affection, and other losses that you may incur when relinquishing your property. You can accept the Section 25 Offer “without prejudice” which means you’ll receive the proposed compensation while retaining the opportunity to negotiate for higher remuneration. 

Typically, during the settlement negotiation, you will be rewarded reimbursement of costs incurred during the negotiation (legal fees, hiring professional appraisers, etc.).

A claim can be made to the Ontario Land Tribunal for full compensation resulting from the expropriation. This is commenced by a Notice of Arbitration and Statement of Claim. Once rendered, the Notice of Arbitration and Statement of Claim will lead to a process that is very similar to a civil court hearing. 

In a hearing, the process is more complicated, but you will also be entitled to reimbursement for fees as defined in Section 32 of the Act: 

“Where the amount to which an owner is entitled upon an expropriation or claim for injurious affection is determined by the Board and the amount awarded by the Board is 85 per cent, or more, of the amount offered by the statutory authority, the Board shall make an order directing the statutory authority to pay the reasonable legal, appraisal and other costs actually incurred by the owner for the purposes of determining the compensation payable, and may fix the costs in a lump sum or may order that the determination of the amount of such costs be referred to an assessment officer who shall assess and allow the costs in accordance with this subsection and the tariffs and rules prescribed under clause 44 (d)”

Following the hearing, you have the option to appeal. In the past, appeals have been heard before the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Expropriation Lawyer FAQ

What is expropriation?

The Ontario Expropriations Act grants the government the authority to seize land without the consent of the owner for a public purpose. The Act does require that the owner be made “whole”, which is to say that appropriate compensation must be paid for the property; this includes compensation for reasonable legal and professional fees.

What does compensation cover?

The compensation must cover all losses and expenditures incurred due to the expropriation. This includes compensation for: 

  • The land
  • Business losses
  • Special difficulties in relocating your business
  • Any additional damages resulting from the expropriation

Injurious affection (long-term impacts on your land when there is only a partial expropriation)

Do I have to fully own the land to be compensated?

No. If your land is under mortgage, you are an estate trustee, a tenant, or a creditor, you may still be entitled to compensation.

What is an expropriation scheme?

The expropriation “scheme” encompasses the land-taking project and the actions of the expropriating authority leading to the eventual public project. This scheme may develop long before the actual expropriation occurs. Recognizing the scheme is crucial as it serves as a foundation for pre-expropriation damages and other losses. While the scheme is not factored into compensation for fair market value, it plays a role in other aspects of the process and damages or compensation assessment.

Full vs partial expropriation

The government can either acquire your entire property or just a portion of it for infrastructure projects and other needs. A partial expropriation can significantly affect your land’s use and value. This is referred to as “injurious affection,” which encompasses the lasting negative consequences of an expropriation on the land or a business situated on it. For instance, if a partial expropriation diminishes the economic feasibility of an intensification development like a condo project. Compensation for the business owners affected by expropriation may be required to address this loss. To receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to, work with an experienced expropriation lawyer Toronto.

What is a Section 25 offer?

Within 90 days of an expropriation becoming official on your property title, the expropriating authority is required to provide you with compensation for the taking. You have the option to accept this offer “without prejudice,” which means you can still pursue additional compensation. This is called a Section 25 offer, and frequently does not cover the complete and equitable compensation for injurious affection and business damages, making it necessary to pursue further claims even after accepting the Section 25 compensation payment.

What is a Section 30 agreement?

Expropriating authorities and landowners can engage in a transaction where the landowner willingly transfers the land to the expropriating authority in exchange for agreed-upon compensation payments. Section 30 Agreements offer flexibility and can be skillfully structured to address various issues, such as road access or construction management, providing protection for both the landowner and the authority to mitigate potential losses in advance.

What are my options when faced with expropriation?

You can fight back. But crafting a robust claim and navigating negotiations requires the expertise of professionals, including land use planners, real estate appraisers, business loss valuators, and legal counsel well-versed in the intricacies of expropriation matters. These specialists should also have experience presenting evidence at the Ontario Land Tribunal (formerly Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and Ontario Municipal Board), as expropriations may lead to hearings concerning the appropriate compensation amount. Land use planners assist in valuation by determining the property’s “highest and best use,” while real estate appraisers evaluate fair market value based on comparable property sales and the highest and best use. Together with an expropriation lawyer Toronto, your team will make a forceful case for fair compensation above what the relevant authority has offered. Owners and tenants have options – contact an expropriation law firm today.

How does this impact my taxes?

Expropriation can have significant tax consequences. For instance, you may qualify for a “rollover” under the Income Tax Act if you replace your expropriated property with a similar one. A rollover allows you to defer taxation on the replacement property rather than triggering a capital gain for the expropriated property’s deemed disposition. Seeking advice from a tax accountant familiar with rollover and replacement property rules is essential for effective expropriation planning, and typically, the expropriating authority covers the legal costs associated with this advice. When you speak with the expropriation lawyers at Unified LLP, we’ll walk you through all the relevant tax demands and options following expropriation.

How does injurious affection work?

Injurious affection applies when the following occurs as a consequence of expropriation:

  • A reduction in the market value of the land of the owner, and
  • Personal and business damages.

If you experience injurious affection, you are entitled to compensation. Even if no land has been claimed, injurious affection may apply (see Antrim Truck Center Ltd. v Ontario (Transportation)).

There is also a time limit for injurious affection, as outlined in Willies Car & Van Wash Ltd. v Simcoe (County). See Pinning Down Section 22 of the Expropriations Act – Giving Notice of IA” for more information about giving notice for more information.

Learn more about injurious affection.

The above FAQ is only meant to inform and should not be considered legal advice. Consult with a leading expropriation lawyer Toronto so we can get a better understanding of your specific situation.