Eminent domain is a necessary, but potentially devastating, compromise between public and private good. It permits government agencies to seize ownership of a piece of real estate when it's needed for a public purpose. In turn, the government must provide just compensation, according to the Fifth Amendment.
If you're facing eminent domain seizure, you need to act quickly and effectively to protect your land and your interests. To help you do this, here are three of the most common — and successful — defenses.
1. Lack of Justified Public Use
Why does the agency claim they need the land? The Fifth Amendment's allowance of land seizure is intended to protect the actual needs of the many when these conflict with the interests of the few. But has this use risen to that level of importance?
Water or electric utility facilities, vital roads, or the closure of a toxic site often do meet this standard. But does a new parking lot to lure in a big, profitable business venture count? As the case of Vera Coking proves, it may not count at all. But you'll need to counter the government agency's often-expensive lawyers spinning their tale.
2. Lack of Necessity
Can the agency complete its objective by some other means? Many eminent domain cases involve projects which have been under planning for years. However, you may find experts in the planning or design fields who can testify about alternative methods to build that highway or place that new agency building.
Eminent domain should never be the first choice for any agency project. And if they haven't adequately considered other choices, the judge may force them to go back to the drawing board.
3. Lack of Just Compensation
If you can't find a way to prevent the seizure, you can at least secure the best compensation for that property. In general, this means market value. But you deserve the right to be involved in determining what the real market value is, using your own experts and legal team. In addition, you may be due interest on unpaid amounts, help with relocation, and attorney's fees and costs for your defense.
Where Can You Get Help?
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to protect your property right now is to work with an experienced real estate attorney in your state. They will help you build the best defense possible to avoid losing property to a government agency.
Contact a real estate attorney to learn more.Share