If you are a land owner in Florida, you may wonder what happens if the Florida Department of Transportation wants your property. You may have found yourself in a position in which you believe the transportation agency is getting ready to obtain property you own as part of a roadway expansion or some other project.
What is eminent domain?
The Florida Department of Transportation has the constitutional and legal authority to acquire private property for a public purpose. This is known as eminent domain, also known as condemnation or taking. Acquiring real estate for a roadway construction project is a prime example.
Notice from the department
If the agency is interested in acquiring your land, you will receive a notice. It will explain your rights and why the property is needed by the agency.
Offer of market price for property
The department will make an offer of what it believes is the property’s current market value. You do not have to immediately accept that offer.
Negotiation with the department
If you are not inclined to accept the first offer from the department, a 30-day period of negotiation will occur. Oftentimes, a land owner and the department reach an agreement to a sales price during this time period.
Eminent domain lawsuit
If an agreement cannot be reached, the department will file an eminent domain lawsuit. Negotiations will continue during the lawsuit in hopes of reaching an agreement. If that doesn’t occur, a jury will make a decision regarding a sales price. You are entitled to legal representation in an eminent domain case. The Florida Department of Transportation will pay a landowner for reasonable attorney fees expended.