When using eminent domain laws, the government has the ability to take property from landowners. This property can then be used in certain ways, generally for projects that are of a benefit to the public.
In other words, government officials cannot take property to build a home or something of this nature. But the government may be able to use eminent domain laws when doing things like constructing an interstate, building a military base or carrying out other public projects.
Determining fair value
When the government exercises its power of eminent domain to take private property for a public purpose, there is a legal requirement to pay the owner just compensation. Just compensation refers to the fair market value of the property in the current market.
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution includes a “Takings Clause,” which dictates that “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This constitutional provision establishes the requirement for the government to provide fair compensation when taking private property.
The process typically starts with an offer of compensation. This is when the government makes an initial offer for the land. This is based on an appraisal, which helps establish the value of that property at that moment – land values are always changing. If the owner doesn’t agree, they have the opportunity to negotiate with the government to reach an agreement on the amount of compensation. Property owners may hire their own appraisers and legal counsel to assist in this process, especially if there is a significant gap between what the government has offered and what they believe they could sell the property for on the open market.
In some cases, the court has to get involved because both sides cannot agree on the value of the property at hand. Once the court determines the compensation amount, the government is required to pay that amount to the property owner.
Property owners who find themselves in disputes concerning eminent domain must understand their rights in order to make effective use of their legal options. This is also true if they do not believe that the use of eminent domain laws is justified when it comes to their property specifically. Seeking legal guidance can be helpful in this regard.