What is eminent domain?

Eminent domain is the government’s power to take private property for a public purpose.

Who can take your property?

The Department of Transportation, cities, towns, counties, local and state governments, school boards, utility companies and airports are some common examples.

What is condemnation?

Condemnation is the process by which the government takes your land.  Condemnation is essentially the same as eminent domain.

What happens when the government takes your property?

Typically, the government must give you 30 days notice before it can take your property.  Often times you will receive a written offer to buy your property before the government begins the condemnation process and takes your property through legal means.  If you do not accept the offer and the government takes legal action to take your property, it must file a Complaint with the Superior Court of the county your property is in, and deposit with the Court the amount of money it believes your property is worth.

How much does the government have to pay you for your property?

The law requires the government to pay you “just compensation”.  This means the fair market value of your property which is defined as the amount a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller.

Can you withdraw the deposit and still contest the amount of just compensation you believe you are entitled to?

Yes.  However, you are required by law to respond to the government’s lawsuit against you within a specific time frame or you risk losing your right to contest the deposited amount.

Is it possible to stop the government from taking my property?

Yes.  However, it is difficult to do and requires a finding by a Court that your property is not being taken for a public purpose.

Can you challenge the government’s opinion as to the value of your property?

Yes.  You are entitled to a jury trial where your peers will listen to the evidence presented and render a verdict of the amount of just compensation.