The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the government to take private property and convert it for public use, but they must provide just compensation to the property owner. This process of government acquisition of private property is referred to as eminent domain. The property that is the subject of the taking is known as the condemned property.

Of course, it makes sense that the government cannot come in and take your private property from you without paying you for it. The key however, is to make sure that you are receiving fair and just compensation from the government.

So, how exactly do you determine what is considered just compensation? The Pennsylvania legislature has laid out a precise method for calculating just compensation, as well as other damages that may be awarded to the property owner in the case of a taking by eminent domain.

Just compensation is measured as the difference between the fair market value of the entire property immediately before the taking, and the fair market value of the property interest immediately after, and affected by the taking. The fair market value shall be determined based on the price that would have been agreeable in a real estate transaction between a willing and informed buyer and seller.

Just compensation does not require the government to pay an excessive or exorbitant amount to acquire property by eminent domain. However, in determining the fair market value of the condemned property it is a very nuanced process with many factors to consider. In addition to the just compensation, the property owner may also be entitled to payment for other damages and expenses, such as, relocation benefits, title fees, attorney’s fees, and appraisal fees. Thus, it can be important to consult with an experienced real estate litigation attorney for cases involving eminent domain in order to ensure that you are receiving just compensation.