Eminent domain, condemnation, and inverse condemnation are all related to the government’s ability to take private property for public use.
While they are related concepts, they have distinct differences – and it’s smart to know the terminology being thrown around if you find yourself in a situation where your property may be taken.
What’s eminent domain?
Eminent domain is a power granted to the government by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which allows the government to claim someone’s private property for public use, so long as the owner is given “just compensation” for the taking. Public uses for which eminent domain can be exercised include things like highway construction or the building of a new school.
What is condemnation?
Condemnation is the legal process by which the government exercises eminent domain. It involves filing a lawsuit to take possession of the property. The government will make an offer to purchase the property for what it deems fair compensation. If the owner refuses, the government can then file suit to take possession and the court will decide the property’s fair market value and any damages due to the owner.
What is inverse condemnation?
Inverse condemnation occurs when the government takes private property without going through the condemnation process or without providing just compensation. Inverse condemnation can also occur when the government’s actions make the property unusable, even though it wasn’t physically taken. For example, if the government constructs a highway that causes flooding on a property, the property owner may have a claim for inverse condemnation.
If you’re a property owner in Georgia and you have questions about eminent domain, seeking experienced legal guidance is wise.