For good reason, the prospect he might be buying on a motorway corridor did not occur to Andrew Murray when he purchased his new home in Miranda in June.
First, his solicitors had conducted searches to check for road reservations and found none.
Second, the home was over a kilometre from what had historically been understood to be the F6 road corridor through Sydney’s Sutherland Shire.
So Mr Murray was surprised when, in late October, two public servants arrived at his door to apologise for the government having taken an interest in his land, without him knowing.
“We never in our wildest dreams would have thought we would end up on the F6 corridor,” he said.
Mr Murray appears to be a victim of the failure of the Land and Property Information office, since privatised, to upload changing motorway plans through southern Sydney into a database known as the Central Register of Restrictions.
The error meant that when people in Mr Murray’s position conducted searches ahead of buying properties, they were incorrectly told there were no future plans for the site.
The government has since offered those in Mr Murray’s position a $30,000 payment, or to buy their properties for the purchase price, plus $75,000 and costs.
But Mr Murray says the offer is “pathetically arrogant”.
After purchasing the home on Sylvania Road, Miranda, in June for $1.33 million, Mr Murray says he and his partner Janet have already spent about $40,000 on the property. As well, house values in the area have increased by more than $75,000 in a year.
If the financial offer is unattractive, Mr Murray is not sure whether staying is worth the risk.
“The major thing that really annoys both myself and Janet is that the government has not been forthcoming whatsoever with any information,” said Mr Murray, who bought the property intending to be “carried out of it”.
“We are hamstrung,” he said. “We cannot do anything unless we know specifically what they have in mind.
“Not knowing who the other affected property owners are is frustrating as well. It seems to me the government’s put us all into one basket, said ‘here’s the deal, take it and go away’.”
In an emailed response, Finance Minister Victor Dominello said the level of compensation offered to those affected by the mistake was based on independent advice from professors Allan Fels and David Cousins.
“In the situation outlined, the property owners have the option to accept the purchase price being offered, or they have the alternate option to accept the $30,000 and then sell their property to the open market, should they wish to,” Mr Dominello said.
The privatisation of Land and Property Information for $2.6 billion has raised questions about what would happen if a similar bungle occurred in the future.
According to Mr Dominello, the contract signed with the new private operator requires them to report to the Registrar General on a monthly basis confirming that CRR files have been correctly uploaded.
But ultimately, the buck would stop with the government. “If the error were to occur again, the government would step in to support homeowners,” Mr Dominello said.
Perhaps not enough for all homeowners.