In growing areas, it is common for landowners to have their land taken by the government for a public project such as a highway, utility easement, school or some other government project for the “public good”. Those individual landowners will more than likely have heard the term “just compensation”. The 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution states, “Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” As a landowner, you need to be made whole for your property when impacted by eminent domain.
The Federal Government and Eminent Domain
Under our federal constitution and all of the state constitutions, the government has the right to take property from a private property owner. This is called the power of eminent domain. In order to accomplish a taking, there are two requirements:
- The property must be taken for a public use
- The property owner must be paid just compensation
Just compensation is, therefore, the remedy that the owner has for losing the property that is taken.
Calculating Just Compensation
- What is the fair market value of the land, or interest in the land that is taken?
- What is the fair market value of the improvements on the property that is taken?
- What is the amount of residue damages that a landowner’s remaining property suffers from a partial taking of land?
- What is the amount of other damages that result from the construction of the proposed improvements in the manner proposed in a partial taking of land?
Many Variables Factor in Just Compensation
There are a number of different factors that go into the government’s offer for just compensation to landowners when the government initiates eminent domain land takings. The appropriate calculation that is used can be extremely complex so it is important that landowners facing condemnation proceedings contact an eminent domain attorney to learn about legal rights and options available to them.