Inverse Condemnation Law
Inverse condemnation is a complex topic with a simple definition. In the most basic terms, it refers to a situation where the government takes private property without paying compensation. Unlike with traditional condemnation where the government sues the property owner for the property, the owner must sue the government for compensation.
Inverse condemnation is an aspect of eminent domain, but it occurs when the process is not completed correctly. Instead of providing notice of condemnation and compensation for the value of the property, the condemning authority begins the eminent domain process without declaration.
Physical Takings vs. Regulatory Takings
When the government takes a property, it may be a physical taking where the land or property is seized or access to the property is removed. Physical takings also refer to damage caused to private property by the government. For example, a utility company or railroad may expand or update their systems, going through a person’s private property and causing excess damage beyond the scope of the project. It may also be a regulatory taking where regulations become so complicated as to render the property useless. Also called zoning, these regulations restrict the use of the owner’s property to where it loses value.
One aspect of regulatory takings is unreasonable development restrictions in eminent domain. These restrictions are imposed on a property owner who is trying to make improvements to the property. This situation will often be seen when the owner attempts to obtain a building permit or requests a zoning change.
While it is rare for a condemning authority to take possession of a property without proper notice and compensation, physical takings may result in inverse condemnation when a portion of the property is restricted or access has been removed without proper declaration and payment.
How to Obtain an Inverse Condemnation Order
When the condemning authority fails to follow correct procedures in eminent domain and declare the taking, the property owner can file a court order to receive the payment required by eminent domain law. This process is known as inverse condemnation.
Once the inverse condemnation order has been filed with the court, the case may either be settled between the two parties with successful negotiations or it may continue to trial where a verdict is handed down.
If the inverse condemnation order is successful, the property owner will receive payment for the value of the property. In addition, the condemning authority must pay all of the costs associated with the process, including the legal fees.