If you are concerned that a government body has unfairly taken or ruined parts of your land, you have legal options. When they avoid formal eminent domain proceedings to take your land and fail to pay you fairly for your loss, they have violated your rights to compensation.
Does the government have to file eminent domain to take your land?
There are many tools available to the government that help them avoid a formal eminent domain claim. Formal eminent domain claims can be expensive and require a lengthy court proceeding. One of the most common ways they do this is to institute condemnation proceedings.
Often, third parties claim the property. This condemning authority may not be an obvious government agency, but they may be a public utility corporation. Those corporations work closely with the government and could act on their behalf.
You may be able to challenge the authority of the condemning authority to resist the taking of your property. You could do this through an inverse (or reverse) condemnation claim.
On what grounds can you challenge a condemnation?
Inverse condemnation claims come from three common complaints. These include the following:
- The condemning authority did not compensate you correctly.
- The condemning authority did not have the right take your property in the first place.
- Your use or enjoyment of the property is damaged or irreparably changed.
For instance, suppose an authority paid you for some of your land and they built a high-speed freeway near your business. They might have paid for the land but now there is so much noise you cannot do business, and now water drains into other areas of your property.
Neither of those facts are likely to change. Freeways are noisy and unless they build a better drainage system, you will continue to experience flooding. As a result, you can no longer do business and on top of it all you must repair the flood damage.
If you are facing expensive or unpleasant consequences of an eminent domain property claim, you may be entitled to compensation. Inverse condemnation claims can help you recover damages when a government agency or its allies unfairly take your property.