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What is an 'inverse condemnation'?

This blog has on many occasions discussed eminent domain proceedings in which a governmental authority legally takes private land, even over a Pennsylvania landowner's objection, and re-dedicates the property to a public use, like a government building or even a highway.

In such cases of eminent domain, while a Philadelphia property owner might not be able to fight the taking of his or her property itself, he or she is able to ask for and receive just compensation for the property he or she loses.

However, there are some situations in which a governmental authority does not actually take a piece of land. Instead, the governmental authority might create rules and regulations that so restrict a landowner's ability to use the land that it no longer has any value. In these sorts of situations, the landowner may initiate an "inverse condemnation" proceeding.

Inverse condemnation is basically a lawsuit in which the landowner accuses the government of, without saying as much, taking his or her property via regulations or other official actions. Proving these sorts of cases is a complicated legal affair, but if a landowner succeeds in doing so, then he or she may be able to compel the government to pay compensation for the loss of the land.

The bottom line is that if a landowner finds himself or herself unable to use his or her land because of regulations, then he or she might want to explore the possibility of an inverse condemnation action. However, one is well advised to speak with a qualified Pennsylvania real estate attorney before doing so, as inverse condemnation actions are complicated affairs which may not be right for every circumstance.

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