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Eminent domain and your right to condemnation proceedings

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | Real Estate Transactions |

When you purchase a home, land or a business, you are under the impression that this real property is yours in its entirety. Essentially, a property owner is the owner of the land as it is described in the deed. However, certain events might alter the lot lines of their property. In other words, the owner could have a portion of their property – or all of it — taken by the government.

Eminent domain may be a somewhat familiar term, but it is something that property owners do not expect to deal with personally. As such, it is not only imperative to understand the laws concerning eminent domain, but it is also essential to explore your rights as a property owner and whether you have grounds to fight against this taking.

The basics of eminent domain

In simple terms, eminent domain refers to the government’s power to take land that is privately owned for public use. This authority is given to federal, state and municipal governments.

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that this taking cannot occur without just compensation. It was further determined that the owners of the private property must be afforded the opportunity to challenge the taking of their land.


When a property owner disagrees with the valuation of the property taken and is unable to negotiate a better or additional compensation, the matter will move into condemnation proceedings. Here, the landowner can counter the offer made by the government. Additionally, they could challenge the validity of the proposed use of the property being taken.

In some cases, an inverse condemnation action could be filed. This action is for property that has a diminished value due to the zoning or government action done with this taking. In these matters, the property owner needs to illustrate that the property had a particular use or value prior to the government taking, and because of the taking, the remaining property has a decreased value.

Eminent domain matters can be complex, and when they go to court, they can take years to challenge. As such, it is important that landowners are aware of their rights and legal options when they are personally dealing with eminent domain.