Eminent Domain FAQ How Does Eminent Domain Work

What is Eminent Domain?

Eminent domain is the government's right to acquire private property for public use. The governmental entity may be a federal, state, county or city government, school district, hospital district or other agencies. The taking of property may be with or without the permission of the owner. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides that "private property [may not] be taken for public use without just compensation." The Fourteenth Amendment added the requirement of just compensation to state and local government takings. The eminent domain process usually involves passage of a resolution by the acquiring agency to take the property (condemnation), including a declaration of public need, followed by an appraisal, an offer, and then negotiation. The owner who believes that just compensation is not being offered for the taking of their property may bring suit against the governmental agency. However, by depositing the amount of the offer in a trust account, the government becomes owner while a trial is pending. Some of the public uses supporting eminent domain include schools, streets and highways, parks, airports, dams, reservoirs, redevelopment, public housing, hospitals and public buildings.

How does eminent domain occur?

There are eminent domain laws which provide who can exercise the right of eminent domain and for what purpose. If the easement or property cannot be purchased, either the utility, city or county or state can condemn property if it is for an approved purpose. Utilities generally have eminent domain rights sometime in cooperation with a governmental agency. To use the power of eminent domain, the condemnor must be authorized, by statute or ordinance, to take the property for a specific public purpose. The condemnor must also try to buy the property from the property owner by good faith negotiation.

Relevant legal forms include:

  • Acceptance of Offer by Landowner from Condemnor - Eminent Domain
  • Eminent Domain - Quick Take Forms
  • Resolution Authorizing Filing of Eminent Domain
  • Petition for Special Court of Eminent Domain
  • Resolution Authorizing Filing of Eminent Domain Action
  • Affidavit - Eminent Domain
  • Summons in Eminent Domain

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