The concept of eminent domain isn’t one that most people become familiar with until it impacts their lives directly. However, many of our readers in Arizona probably know the basics of eminent domain: it is a legal mechanism by which the federal, state or local government – or other authorized entity – can take some form of ownership over another person’s property for a public purpose.
The property owner is supposed to receive compensation for the property or property rights taken. The process of using eminent domain is commonly referred to as “condemnation.” That can all seem fairly straightforward. But what about “inverse condemnation”?
Inverse condemnation defined
In short, inverse condemnation refers to a situations in which eminent domain greatly damages the value and use of a property. This gives the owner of that property cause to make a claim against the government.
An inverse condemnation action may occur even when there is no actual, physical taking of a person’s property or property rights. It is economic damage that is usually at the heart of an inverse condemnation action. And, the damage is usually perceived to be permanent.
For instance, a government agency might take a plot of land and use it to store hazardous materials. The owner of a neighboring parcel of land feels that this use has destroyed the value of his land. He can make a claim for inverse condemnation.
Eminent domain, condemnation, inverse condemnation – these are all areas in which property owners may find themselves unwilling plunged into. The public purpose at hand may not be so beneficial for landowners who may be impacted.
If you are facing the prospect an impact on your property because of condemnation or a project that is purportedly for a “public purpose,” you’ll want to do a thorough review of all of your legal options.