How Does the Eminent Domain Process Work?
It is important to understand the eminent domain process if a property owner wishes to challenge the taking of property. The actual process is called condemnation with each state having its own specific rules. However, the process is similar regardless of which state it occurs in.
The first step occurs when the local government requires the use of a property or building for a project of public benefit. It must contact the owner with a selling price and notification of eminent domain.
The property owner may agree to the price offered, which is the simplest process with the owner being paid and the government receiving the deed to the land or building. In more cases, the property owner does not agree with the offered price. In this case, the process moves forward with a hearing to determine fair market value for the property. The property must be appraised and documentation provided to enable the court to make a decision on the appropriate selling price. In a third scenario, the property owner may refuse to sell. The government must then file an action with the court to establish a hearing. The government must prove that the property is being taken for public use and that it had tried to negotiate a selling price. If the court agrees with the government, it must set a price at fair market value and evict the property owner.
These situations most often occur with a complete or physical taking. However, there may be instances where only part of the property is taken, or it is only taken for a temporary period. Called a partial taking and temporary taking, the property owner may still be entitled to compensation for the loss of use of the property. However, they still remain the property owner.