Your Rights as an Alabama Property Owner Who Just Received a Condemnation Letter Offering to Purchase Your Property
Local, state, and the federal government have the power to take private property and develop it for public use. This power is called “eminent domain,” and the legal process that’s used to acquire private property in exchange for just compensation is called “condemnation.” A condemnation proceeding begins when the government sends a property owner a written offer to purchase the property for a stated amount. As an Alabama landowner who just received that letter, you may not realize that you do not have to accept that offer. You should immediately contact an attorney experienced in condemnation cases.
The Right to Due Process
Before the government can seize your land, you have the right to due process of law as guaranteed by the US and Alabama Constitutions. This means that the government must provide you with written notification of the taking of your property with adequate time for you to respond, to have your property independently appraised and to negotiate.
The Right to Just Compensation
Under the law, the condemning entity must pay the property owner “just compensation” in exchange for taking their land. However, the initial offer is typically low, because it was calculated by an appraiser who valued the property at its current use. The law requires that the offer of just compensation be calculated based your property’s highest and best use regardless of its current use. The law also requires the offer to include an amount for the damage the project will cause to the remainder of your property not being taken by the government. Most offers to purchase omit these two elements of just compensation.
The Right to Dispute
As with any legal matter in this country, you have the right to work with an attorney to push back against the government and demand just compensation. While many condemnation cases can be resolved through back-and-forth negotiation, some instances require going to court. If you are a landowner in northern Alabama who has just received or expects to receive an offer to purchase, our dedicated legal team is ready to help you understand your options and rights. At Sewell Sewell Beard LLC, we are committed to helping our clients receive just compensation. Call (205) 544-2350 today to learn more.
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