Louisiana Property Rights
In the Kelo v the City of New London case, which went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, the government was allowed to take private properties for a redevelopment project that included private property owners. In response to that verdict, several states created their own legislation to protect private property and the rights of property owners.
In 2006, an amendment was voted into law that would provide enhanced protection for property owners from eminent domain abuse. Amendment V states that private property cannot be condemned just to generate taxes or provide jobs. Blight laws were also limited to properties that were a real threat to the health or safety of the public. The amendment also states that residential properties where the owner is in residence cannot be used for an industrial park or public port.
Because of Louisiana’s strict eminent domain laws, it received a grade of B for the 50 State Report Card. While the government does have the right to use eminent domain power in this state, property owners also have rights.
The Rights of the Property Owner
As stated in Article 4 of the state constitution, people have the right to own property, which states that it should not be taken by the state or damaged, except for public purposes. In addition, the amendment calls for just compensation to be paid to the property owner for the property. The article goes on to state how public purpose should be limited, which includes:
- When the general public has the right to define use of the property
- Public buildings which have publicly funded services
- Roads, bridges and other means of access to the public on water or on land
- Parks, museums, historical buildings and other facilities open to the public
- Public utilities
- Public ports and airports
- Removal of a threat to either the health or safety of the public
The private property owner has the right to trial by jury to determine the amount of compensation. Compensation should include the value of the property as well as all costs for relocating the property owner and any damaged incurred as well as other inconveniences because of the expropriation.
Personal property is not to be taken with the exception of contraband. If the property being expropriated is a business, no assets should be taken to operate the company or to stop the competition.
Any property that is taken that the government entity decides to sell within the next 30 years must be offered first to the previous owner or their heir. Once the project is completed for which the property was expropriated, within one year all property that was not necessary to the project must be identified and labeled as surplus. It must be offered back to the previous owner at fair market value. If this fails to happen, the former owner has the right to petition the court to have the property declared as such.
If you have received notice of expropriation for your property, you should know the rights you have. Let us help you protect those rights through the process of eminent domain.