After you purchase a piece of real estate, you often rely on ownership of that property for stability in your life or in your business. If you receive word that the government intends to seize your property, however, you are sure to have questions. Can the government really take your property? Do they have a valid reason to take your property? How will this impact your life?

Under what circumstances can the government take your property?

Eminent domain is a legal process that allows the government to take a piece of property from its owner. In order to take this property, however, the government must meet specific requirements.

First, property seized through eminent domain must be done to benefit the community. That is why we often hear about eminent domain in cases that involve expanding roadways, building new schools or improving the community’s access to power, water, natural gas or other resources. The constitution requires the government to take property through eminent domain only for public use.

The government must also offer you fair compensation for your property. While this may seem like a simple matter, it often involves negotiation, consultation with experts and sometimes legal action. If the government only wants to seize a portion of your property, for example, it may impact the value of the rest of your property, and that loss of value should also be considered.

Can you challenge eminent domain?

If you believe that the government seized your property for a something other than the public good or if they have offered an unfair price for your land, you can fight back against the government’s attempt to seize your property. You may be able to fight for fair compensation for your property or to stop the seizure altogether.

Challenging eminent domain often requires the guidance of an experienced attorney. A lawyer can help you navigate eminent domain law and protect your rights as a property owner.