If the State, or a governmental entity, takes an action that doesn’t directly “take” your property but renders it worthless, significantly less valuable, or takes a property right, you may have a case. Traditional condemnation involves a formal taking or seizure of your property, but sometimes, a condemnor can “take’ your property without a formal condemnation.  When an authority’s decision, such as a zoning change or implementation of a floodplain, does not result in the formal seizure of your property but significantly affects your property’s, you may have an available recourse. In these instances, an Illinois landowner may bring an inverse condemnation suit to hold the government accountable for the limitations they have imposed on your property.

Examples of Inverse Condemnation

Inverse condemnation can be a direct, physical taking or it can be a significant interference with real or personal property. Landowners have successfully brought inverse condemnation actions for the following:

  • Flooding on property resulting from government construction.
  • Sewage on property resulting from government construction.
  • Land stability has been decreased because of government construction.
  • A significant impairment of access to property or noise from overflying aircraft from government decision making.
  • A physical trespass or occupancy of property without a formal condemnation

Significant Economic Devaluation or Taking of Rights

In order to succeed on an inverse condemnation matter, mere devaluation of your property will not suffice. For example, if IDOT builds a major highway next to your house but doesn’t actually take any of your land and your house, while less valuable, can still be legally and safely used as a residence, it will be difficult to bring a successful inverse condemnation claim. If, however, IDOT builds a major highway and renders your property unusable or completely valueless, you may have a valid claim that IDOT “took” your property and could bring a successful inverse condemnation claim against the State.

Further, if a government takes a property right from you, you may be able to bring an inverse claim. For example, if the City of Chicago builds a road that consequently removes access to your property, even if the City doesn’t physically take any of your property, you may be able to bring a claim against the City because Illinois landowners have a right to access. On the flip side, if the City merely builds a median which cuts off traffic flow to your property from a certain direction, your inverse claim is unlikely to be successful because Illinois landowners, much like landowners in other states, do not have a right to traffic flow.

Inverse condemnation claims are very fact-specific, and if you feel you have a valid claim, you should contact a condemnation attorney to evaluate your set of circumstances to see if you can bring a successful action.