Eminent domain and condemnation are two terms that are often thrown around within the same topic, so it’s understandable that some people may get them confused. Though the terms are similar, they are not entirely interchangeable.
Understanding the similarities and differences of eminent domain vs condemnation can help you understand your rights as a landowner. Here’s what you need to know about eminent domain vs condemnation.
Eminent domain refers to an entity’s power to take property away from a private landowner and put it toward public use. In order to exercise this power, the entity must follow certain procedural guidelines. For example, the government can only take away private land under eminent domain after first providing a monetary offer and providing notice of the acquisition.
While the power of eminent domain is often assumed to be reserved for public entities and governmental bodies only, sometimes private entities (like pipelines and transmission lines) may be able to exercise this authority as well. Whether or not these private entities may exercise eminent domain is entirely dependent on the state and federal law applicable to the situation.
Condemnation is the process by which the aforementioned entities exercise their eminent domain authority. For example, if your state department of transportation (DOT) wants to build a road on your property and the correct procedure is followed, the DOT will have the ability to acquire your property through eminent domain and it will file a condemnation complaint to do so.
The condemnation procedure a condemnor follows depends on where the acquisition is taking place, which entity is doing the acquiring, and sometimes, what purpose the acquisition is being put to. For example, a private natural gas pipeline condemning property in Texas and Oklahoma follows a different condemnation process than a municipality in Georgia condemning private property to convey to a private redeveloper. Your individual condemnation case will require a full analysis of all the relevant statutes and regulations in order to determine your strategy.
While the term “eminent domain” refers to the right to take the land, “condemnation” is the act of actually carrying out that right—when the government or private entity actually takes the land away from the landowner.
It may seem as if landowners have no control in the case of eminent domain, but each state grants certain rights to landowners in these situations. For example, every landowner in a state-level eminent domain action has the right to a jury trial over the compensation they are owed as a result of the acquisition. This right is codified in the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Part of this right to a jury trial is the ability to disagree with whatever the condemnor offers you for your property. Many landowners are under the impression that whatever the condemnor offers them is “fair” or “the best they can get.” This is not always the case, and in fact, in our experience, it is rarely the case. Landowners are entitled to disagree with the state’s position on compensation, and they are further entitled to have a jury hear their own position.
Now that you understand the nuances of eminent domain vs condemnation, you’re better equipped to handle the eminent domain process. And if you’re a landowner facing condemnation, Sever Storey can help you get fair compensation.
We have years of experience representing landowners of all types, all over the country. Our expertise allows us to have an excellent track record in cases ranging from retail space to farmland. Contact us today for help with your eminent domain case.
What are the unique issues that face commercial property owners in condemnation that can make all the difference?LEARN MORE
Landowners forget this one thing when dealing with utility companies that want an easement across their land.LEARN MORE
What you need to know to be treated fairly by the condemning authority.LEARN MORE
Before going alone against the State let us give you our opinion. It is our pledge that we will provide a free case review for any individual or business facing eminent domain or condemnation. Contact us now at 888-318-3761