Eminent Domain Lawyer

What is Eminent Domain?

Eminent domain is an action where the government seizes private property for public use following a payment to the property owner. The law is normally applied when building highways, train tracks or public property for the benefit of a community, such as schools or hospitals.
Property owners are protected by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which requires the government to provide just compensation to the owner of the property being taken. The government takes private property through condemnation proceedings. Throughout these proceedings, the property owner has the right of due process.
What Is The Process of Eminent Domain?
Eminent domain legal procedures vary between states and jurisdictions, but they normally follow a similar set of proceedings:
• The government attempts to negotiate the purchase of the property for fair value.
• If the owner does not wish to sell, the government files a court action to exercise eminent domain, and serves or publishes notice of the hearing as required by law.
• A hearing is scheduled, where the government must demonstrate that it engaged in good faith negotiations to purchase the property, but that no agreement was reached. The government must also demonstrate that the taking of the property is for a public use, as defined by law.
• When the court rules in favor of the government’s petition, proceedings are held to establish the fair market value of the property. All payments to the owner are first used to satisfy mortgages, liens and encumbrances on the property, with the remaining balance paid to the owner. When all the court-set conditions are satisfied, the government obtains the property title.
Complete, Partial and Temporary Takings
Not all cases of eminent domain result in complete takeover of property. Aside from complete takeover, where all the property is appropriated, property owners can also face partial and temporary takings.
Partial takings occur when the acting party is taking a part of a piece of property. This happens often with new electricity poles or pipelines or other municipal projects. These cases are similar to complete takings and the owner should be compensated both for the value of the strip of land and for any effect of the condemnation on the value of the owner’s remaining property.
Temporary takings are often used when a portion of private property is needed to complete construction or highway projects. The property owner retains title and is compensated for any losses associated with the taking. When the construction is completed the owner regains complete possession of the property.
What Is Eminent Domain Abuse?
According to the U.S. Constitution, eminent domain is to be employed for public use. In recent years, various government agencies and private corporations, such as utility corporations or land developers, have given new meanings to the definition of “public use” and have acquired public land for private profits.
While these practices are often approved state courts, they can be stopped and prevented by hiring the right team of lawyers with experience in eminent domain laws and legal proceedings.

If you have questions or would like more information on eminent domain law, contact us here.