For every legal right there exists a corresponding legal process. Through the process of condemnation, a government pursues its right of eminent domain, or seizure of private property for a public use.
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution identifies one of the essential requirements to seize private property: providing just compensation to the landowner. Sometimes, a landowner claims the government has taken their property in an impermissible way without just compensation. This is known as inverse condemnation.
Eminent domain versus inverse condemnation
When a landowner makes an inverse condemnation claim, they seek the remedy of just compensation from the government when it fails to follow proper condemnation procedures. These may apply to cases where the government takes over ownership of a piece of property as well as cases of so-called regulatory taking. A regulatory taking occurs when the government deprives the owner of the economic benefit of their property. In either case, the government must provide just compensation.
A recent court case in the Court of Appeals of Arizona, Second Division highlights the considerations of pursuing an inverse condemnation claim. Private property owners alleged that a public service company installed above-ground power lines illegally on their property. Among other issues, they asserted the company failed to comply with condemnation proceedings under state law. The court reminded them that a non-governmental entity has a right of eminent domain.
Both a property owner and the government have rights concerning land. Each must follow the process established to exercise the authorized right. Attorneys knowledgeable in eminent domain and condemnation proceedings can offer guidance.