The constitution gives the government power to acquire private property for public use, such as roads, schools or public buildings. This can happen even if the property owner does not intend or wish to sell the property. However, the government must pay just compensation to take over your property.
As a property owner, it is worthwhile to understand how eminent domain works, the limitations and your legal rights as an affected party.
The eminent domain procedure
The process begins with the approval of a public project or plan by a government organization with the power of eminent domain. Afterward, the government will estimate a just compensation for the property and make an offer to buy. The offer is based on an appraisal by a government employee or a private appraiser contracted by the government.
Finally, the government condemns or takes the land by filing a declaration of taking in court. Possession of the property in question transfers to the government 30 days after the filing of the declaration.
You do not have to accept the amount offered
Usually, you will receive written notice of the government’s intention to take your property. If you do not agree with the government’s valuation of your property, you can reject the offer you receive and make a counteroffer. Ultimately, you can also seek relief by initiating an administrative hearing. Remember, you have a right to receive a fair market value of your property and other damages.
Protecting your interests in the face of eminent domain
Although the government has the legal authority to condemn your property under eminent domain, you also have your rights, which you ought to look out for. As such, it is crucial to seek appropriate assistance to understand your legal options should you have any concerns or reservations about the entire process.