Frequently Asked Questions

What is eminent domain and what does it mean for me?

Eminent Domain is the legal process by which a government or state agency takes private property from landowners to convert it to public uses. If you are a landowner whose property is located where the government wants to build a new road, school, or another public facility, you could have your property seized by the government for that project to go forward. For more information on this, see our Condemnation article.

What constitutes "public use" for eminent domain?

Public uses are things like new public schools, new or wider roads, public works utilities, and military bases. They are usually public or government facilities that are constructed for the use or benefit of the community. While no one wants to be forced to sell their property, new fire houses, and police stations or libraries, seem like a good reason for the government to want to take property. For more information on this, see our Public Use article.

What is the typical eminent domain process for a landowner?

Below is a brief list of the things that are likely to happen if you are subject to an eminent domain action. These things are discussed more fully in our Understanding the Process article.

  • The government determines how much of your land is needed for a project.
  • An appraiser enters your property to assign it a fair market value price.
  • You receive an offer price on the property.
  • Your property is condemned via a civil action and money is deposited with the court to pay you.
  • You can choose to withdraw the money immediately. If you do so, you can then choose to take no further action or to challenge the fair market value price in an attempt to receive additional compensation.

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Can the government take my business property under eminent domain?

Yes, the government can seize any type of privately owned land under eminent domain if it is deemed necessary for the completion of a project. For more on this see our Condemnation article as well as our When Business Property is Condemned article.

Can I Stop the Government from Taking My Land?

Unfortunately, once your property has been condemned, there is very little you can do to stop the process. As long as the government has met their requirement of giving you all proper notices and they intend to use your property for a public use, you are probably not going to be able to keep the property. You should focus on receiving fair and just compensation for your property and other expenses.

Am I getting enough compensation for my property? Do I need my own appraiser?

“Fair compensation” under the law means the appraised fair market value (FMV) of your property. The appraisal should take into account the value of your property before the eminent domain project and the value that the property will have once the project is completed. Unfortunately, the government will want to pay as little for your property as possible. You may wish to obtain your own appraisal to use in negotiating your compensation. For more on this, see our Knowing Your Rights article.