What are Your Rights if Your Property Has Been Condemned?

What are Your Rights if Your Property Has Been Condemned Through Eminent Domain?

In general, eminent domain is a broad tool for governments to obtain property for “public purposes.” “Public purposes” has been applied very broadly by the courts in a number of cases; “public purposes” does not need to mean that all of the public will be benefitted by the taking and new use for the subject property.

Challenging a project for not being a “public purpose” is usually very difficult.  Clearly property taken for railways, roads, parking lots, stadiums, public buildings, and similar uses will be considered “public purposes.”  Assuming that a public purpose exists, the only right that property owners will have is the right to receive the fair market value of their property (which does not take into account the value of the property for the intended public use).

Determining Fair Market Value

Assume that person X owns a house that is subject to a government taking through eminent domain.  There are two other very similar homes on person X’s street that each sold for $300,000 in the past six months.  The fair market value of the home for person X should be determined to be around $300,000, unless person X can make showing as to why their house is worth more.

Some conditions for person X that might indicate a higher valuation could include:

  • A larger yard
  • A pool
  • A three-car garage (if the other properties only had 2 car garages)
  • An increase in neighborhood prices from other sales in the last 6 months
  • Significant household improvements compared to the two other home sales

In making a case for fair market value, Person X may not argue the value of their land with respect to the completion of the public use project. For instance, Person X could not say that without their land, the government would have to make a detour of a rail line that would cost an extra $2 million; therefore, their property is really worth $2 million.

Learn More About How We Can Help

We offer a free consultation, so if your property is subject to a government taking, we would encourage you to contact our firm to learn more about your options and how we can help.

In the interim, to learn more about how we help property owners get full value, please click here.  We accept eminent domain cases on a contingency fee basis with respect to the additional amount we are able to recover over the government’s offer before we are retained (there is no contingency fee due with respect to the portion of the settlement or award equal to the government’s initial offer).*


* For more information on fees, please see this page.

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