Eminent Domain

Eminent domain, or condemnation, is the legal term that describes the taking of private property for use by the government. Eminent domain raises constitutional issues and must be done properly. The government is obligated to purchase the land it is taking, even though the citizen who is losing their property cannot generally stop the sale from taking place.

Common Eminent Domain Issues

Eminent domain is commonly invoked for roadway construction, utilities, and public buildings. The government may attempt to use eminent domain for other purposes as well.

Often, legal fights over eminent domain occur because citizens are unsure about their rights and naturally feel insecure when the government forces them to sell their property to the government. The U.S. Constitution requires the government to provide “just compensation” when it takes property for public use. U.S. Const. Amend. V. Determining what constitutes just compensation can be difficult since the transaction is not driven by market forces. The price the government pays for the real estate is one of the most common sources of dispute. Other disputes center around the use or purpose for which the government is taking the property.

Handling Eminent Domain Issues

The best approach to handling eminent domain issues is first to determine if the property is being taken by the government. Next to determine if the government is taking the property for a proper use. Finally, it needs to be determined if the price being paid for the property amounts to just compensation. If the government fails to follow the law in any of these areas litigation may be necessary.