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What property owners need to know about eminent domain

by | Dec 19, 2023 | Real Estate Law

Eminent domain, a concept rooted in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, empowers the government to acquire private property for public use.

While this authority should serve the greater good, property owners should be well-informed about their rights and the process involved.

What is eminent domain?

In October 2023, 679,000 people purchased new homes, a reduction of nearly 6% from September 2023. As new homeowners, these individuals need to understand how eminent domain could impact their purchases. Eminent domain grants the government the power to take private property, but governments can only take private property for a public purpose, such as building roads, schools or other infrastructure. However, property owners should receive compensation based on the fair market value of their property.

Public use requirement

The government needs to demonstrate that the intended use of the property serves a public purpose. This can be a complex aspect of eminent domain cases. Property owners can challenge the government’s justification for taking their land. In addition, there are cases when property owners can negotiate a private sale with the government.

Due process

Property owners have the right to due process of law when the government takes their property through eminent domain. The government needs to provide notice that it intends to take the property. In addition, property owners have the right to challenge the government’s decision to take their property. This typically involves demonstrating that the government’s actions do not meet the constitutional requirement of public use or that the compensation offered is not fair. Litigation may include negotiations, appraisals or court hearings.

Eminent domain is a controversial issue with much criticism. For the best results, property owners should read their state constitutions and applicable eminent domain regulations.