Row of cows at farm in Shropshire

Utility work compensation claims: get expert help to maximise your claim entitlement

12/09/22Utility work compensation claims: get expert help to maximise your claim entitlement

Landowners and tenants have the right to be compensated for any reasonable financial losses that they suffer as a result of utility companies carrying out work to apparatus located on their private land. Such work can include planned maintenance or alteration work, as well as installing new apparatus for electricity, water, sewerage or gas transmission.  

When it comes to claiming compensation, many affected landowners/tenants (i.e. the claimants) have neither the time nor the means to prepare a suitable claim and to negotiate a fair settlement.  

Appointing a land agent, who has specialist knowledge and experience of dealing with such matters, can be of great benefit. Furthermore, the land agent’s costs are usually covered by the utility company*.  

What can claimants be compensated for? 

Compensation claims vary enormously, depending upon the nature of the land or property affected, the type of business activity that is being disturbed and the scale of infrastructure work that is being carried out.  

When dealing with a compensation claim affecting agricultural land, typical items forming part of the claim can include: 

  1. Capital depreciation of land. 
  2. Costs of reinstating agricultural land following ground excavations. 
  3. Value of lost crops at the time of the works as well as until the agricultural land is fully re-established. 
  4. Time and costs spent dealing with the scheme and altering farming arrangements to accommodate the utility work. 
  5.  Reimbursement of lost business profits.
  6. Reimbursement of professional costs. 

Compensation is not just for farmers 

The right to claim compensation is not just applicable to farmers. Any commercial or residential owner-occupier or tenant can claim compensation relating to utility works affecting their property, provided that the losses can be justified.  

When should you think about compensation? 

It is in every claimant’s interest to consider compensation as soon as they are notified about planned utility work affecting their land or property. This is because, in accordance with relevant statutory legislation, every claimant has a duty to mitigate their losses as far as is reasonably foreseeable; this is where the early engagement of a land agent can prove extremely valuable.  

Early engagement is very important 

It is important to appoint a land agent as soon as possible after the utility company gets in touch so that a compensation interest can be protected before land access is granted. Engaging a land agent early on in this process also takes the stress out of dealing with the scheme, to the benefit of the claimant. 

What does a land agent do? 

The land agent will advise the claimant on reasonable matters that they can be compensated for. They will also liaise with the utility company to ensure that works are undertaken so as to cause the least disruption to the claimant’s use of their land or property. They will also seek agreement with the utility company over certain matters, which will form part of the compensation claim at the end of the scheme of work, thus protecting the claimant’s position. This last point is very important to consider; from experience we know that towards the end of a utility infrastructure scheme, the team of people that a landowner has been dealing with will very quickly move onto other projects. They will no longer need the goodwill and co-operation of the claimant; therefore, good record-keeping is essential in order to provide a robust and evidence-based claim.  

Land management during the works 

The land agent should also advise the claimant about how best to manage their land or property during the work, in order to comply with their statutory obligations. They should also advise on what suitable records should be kept as evidence in support of the compensation claim. The land agent’s role is often one of facilitator; they translate technical engineering information to discuss with a claimant and they also explain the farming needs and practices of the claimant to the utility company’s contractors so that the work can be planned and undertaken effectively. 

How Forge can help you 

Forge Property Consultants are land agents with expert knowledge of utility compensation matters; therefore, we can help claimants to maximise their compensation entitlement and minimise the impact of infrastructure works. We are very experienced in dealing with all manner of compensation claims relating to utility work undertaken on private land by electricity, water, sewerage, and gas companies. 

Just recently, we have completed a raft of successful compensation claims for clients across South Wales. This related to an electricity apparatus maintenance scheme. We also deal with land damage claims relating to all manner of utility apparatus on a regular basis. Over the years, we have settled compensation claims relating to a variety of agricultural, commercial, and residential properties. We have also acted for a wide-ranging client base that includes private property owner-occupiers; landlords; tenants; as well as public bodies.  

We have a unique understanding of the different legislative powers and operating procedures used by the various utility companies. 

Our in-depth knowledge and years of experience in successfully settling compensation claims mean that we can provide claimants with confidence that they can be fairly compensated for what is due to them. 

Working out of our network of three offices based in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Pembrokeshire, our team of professional land agents are strategically placed to cover the West Midlands and the whole of Wales. Please get in touch today for a no obligation discussion to see if we can help you with a utility claim matter. 

*If a claimant is VAT registered, then the utility company will usually expect the claimant to pay the VAT on professional costs, because this is viewed as a loss that can be recovered from HMRC within a VAT return. However, if the claimant is not VAT registered, then the utility company is obliged to pick up the whole bill. 

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