When a local, state, or federal government steps in to seize private property from the owner, this is known as condemnation. Both the U.S. Constitution and most state constitutions require the government to offer “just compensation” to the owner, but this term is fairly vague. The power of the government to seize property is called eminent domain, which allows the government to take private property for public use. Many homeowners are caught unaware when they are notified that their property is about to be seized, and they need to understand their rights and legal options. At Sewell Sewell Beard LLC, we have decades of experience with the condemnation process, and we are committed to answering your questions and helping you achieve a favorable outcome. Reach out today to learn more.
Under state and federal law, a government can exercise eminent domain only when the property in question will be converted and made available for “public use.” Common projects include the construction of new highways, roadways, state parks, and certain private developments, such as retail centers, that are intended to benefit the community. The term “public use” remains up to interpretation in many ways—as long as the developer can show that the new project will benefit the public in some way, their power to seize private property may exist.
Once the government decides to seize property from its owner, it must determine the value of each property so that it can compensate the owners. As you might guess, these appraisals are often significantly under market value, and it’s within your rights as a property owner to reject their lowball offer. In response, the government will likely file a Complaint for Condemnation, where a probate judge will determine whether the government does in fact have the authority to seize your property, and if so, what amount of compensation you are due. If you still reject the amount of compensation offered to you, you can appeal your case to a trial court, where a team of jurors—instead of one judge—will decide the amount of just compensation you should receive.
At Sewell Sewell Beard LLC, we are dedicated to helping our clients understand their legal options. If you are struggling with a condemnation or eminent domain issue, we are here to help you receive a fair and correctly performed appraisal of your property so that you can obtain the full compensation you deserve. We will stay by your side throughout the entire condemnation process, making sure to address your questions and concerns every step of the way as we fight hard to secure you a favorable outcome.