How can property owners protect themselves from eminent domain?

Property rights have extensive statutory protection at both the federal and state levels. As a result, those who invest in land or real property either as a residence or an investment, typically trust that they will have control over that property as long as they pay their mortgage and taxes on time.

Unfortunately, some property owners end up at risk of losing the property that they have invested in through no fault of their own. When there are projects planned for public benefit, sometimes the development process requires the acquisition of local real estate. Eminent domain laws allow for the compelled sale of real property for projects ranging from utility infrastructure installation to highway expansions.

How can those who have invested in real property protect against eminent domain claims?

They can sometimes challenge the plans

It is possible, in certain cases, for those facing the risk of an eminent domain claim against their property to fight the project itself or the inclusion of their property in the project. For example, perhaps they could show that the road expansion or pipeline could travel through an adjacent property, thereby bypassing theirs. Other times, people can raise questions about whether a project is actually for public benefit or private profit. Such strategies are only available in a small minority of eminent domain cases.  Most individuals facing eminent domain claims and feeling worried about their investments may have to focus on recouping as much as they can.

They can potentially challenge the price set

In many cases, those with a property located near a large upcoming project will not be able to avoid the forced sale of their property. Should they refuse to sell, the state may initiate condemnation proceedings and compel them to complete the transaction. However, they can potentially challenge the offer made. Gathering documentation to affirm that the fair market value of the property is much higher than the amount offered can be a viable strategy for those who have no choice but to accept that their property will soon be part of a large project. They will usually need to go to church

The options available depend on the details of the situation. Reviewing the condition of the property, the proposed project and the offer can all help people better respond to the threat eminent domain poses for their ownership.