GLOSSARY OF TERMS

YOUR PROPERTY. YOUR RIGHTS.

Eminent domain is a fundamental power held by the government and some private corporations to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation.

All condemning authorities send property owners a written notice by certified mail before filing an eminent domain lawsuit. The notice alerts landowners that the property will be taken through the power of eminent domain.

It is required that all condemning authorities make an initial written offer to the owner of the property it intends to take. You do not have to accept the government’s initial offer of compensation.

The government may send appraisers or other agents to talk to you about your property. Upon request, the law requires the condemning authority to provide you with a copy of the appraisal report. Remember that these appraisers work for the government, not you.

Typically, the purpose of an eminent domain trial is to determine the fair market value of the property. The trial is conducted before a judge and jury. Every landowner is entitled to a 12-person jury trial, who determine the facts of the case.

Certain businesses may qualify for business damages. You may be entitled to recover relocation expenses if you are forced to relocate your business. You may also be entitled to compensation if your business loses any of the benefits of its location as a result of the taking.

The full value to be paid for property taken by the government for public purposes guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Any real property that is NOT owned by the government is private property, including residential, commercial, agricultural, vacant, and other types of real estate.

Anything that is used by or has a beneficial purpose for the general public. This can include transportation projects, government and public buildings, and utilities, to name a few.

The process that a condemning authority uses to acquire private property for public use.

Government entities and some private companies such as public utilities that have the power of eminent domain.

An easement is a limited right to use the land of another for a specific purpose.

Part or all of the property is appropriated for a limited period of time. The property owner retains title, is compensated for any losses associated with the taking, and regains complete possession of the property at the conclusion of the taking.

If the taking is of part of a piece of property, such as the condemnation of a strip of land to expand a road, the owner should be compensated both for the value of the strip of land and for any effect the condemnation of that strip has on the value of the owner’s remaining property.

In a complete taking, all of the property at issue is appropriated. Compensation will normally be the fair value of the land taken, but may also involve additional compensation based upon how the land is being used, as might occur if the taking interrupts business operations or requires a business to relocate, or by virtue of state law.

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