At Neale & Newman, condemnation law is one of the areas in which we practice. Many people are unaware of the impact that Missouri condemnation law can have on individuals and businesses when it comes to real estate property. In today’s blog post, Neale & Newman explains what condemnation law is, how it works, and when you need help.
What is Condemnation Law?
Condemnation is when a local, state, or federal government seizes private property from an owner and then compensates that owner for the property. While most people don’t know what the term condemnation means, they almost certainly learned about eminent domain in school, which is what gives the government the power to take the property. Condemnation has long been a controversial legal area, as the government is required to give compensation to the owner for the land, but the owner doesn’t actually have a say in the sale. In other words, the government doesn’t need an owner’s approval during condemnation.
How Does Condemnation Work?
The condemnation process is varied and doesn’t always look the same for everybody. This is why condemnation law is important, as landowners will need legal representation to assist in their unique situation. Once the government decides to begin the process, they will have the land appraised and present the owner with a pro tanto award, which is essentially a partial-payment offer made by the government for the land. If the owner does not wish to accept that condemnation award, the government will file for the right to eminent domain, and a hearing is scheduled. At this hearing, the government will present the court with evidence that the condemnation award offer is reasonable and that the property will be for public use.
Who Has the Right to Condemn Property?
Under U.S. law, the government (federal, state, local, or municipal) may condemn property. These governments can also delegate this authority to various agencies or private parties to act on their behalf. In order to build out public infrastructure, a public utility is often given the power to condemn property.
What Happens If Your Property Is Taken?
According to the Fifth Amendment's Taking Clause,7 condemned property owners are entitled to "just compensation." Just compensation is typically interpreted as full and fair market value. Alternate methods may be used (e.g., income potential lost on a rented property).
Condemnation vs. Eminent Domain
There is a slight difference between the two terms, even though sometimes they are used interchangeably. Taking over a property by eminent domain is the right of the government. Condemnation actually entails that process.
How Do Inverse Condemnations Work?
Reverse condemnation is when the government eminent domains a property but fails to compensate the owner fairly. To obtain inverse condemnation, a property owner must sue the government to receive either the property back or to receive a fair compensation for its possession.
How Can I Get Help?
Condemnation can be frustrating for landowners, and it often seems unfair. If you do not wish to accept the pro tanto award and want to take the situation to court, condemnation law becomes crucial. At Neale & Newman, our eminent domain lawyers can help you present evidence to the court at all stages of the condemnation process and protect your interests during any appeals or challenge processes.