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Understanding eminent domain

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2021 | Consumer Protection |

When a person purchases a property, he or she may not be aware that there are some circumstances when the government can take that private land for public use. That process is called eminent domain.

Eminent domain may be used in situations where a property owner’s home must be moved in order to make space for a highway, bridge or other public use. Eminent domain includes any use that generally provides a benefit to the public.

When the government takes a property by eminent domain, the owner is entitled to compensation. This compensation is generally based on the fair market value of the property. Sometimes, the government will seek to take the entire property or only a portion of it, which can also determine the compensation the owner receives.


The government follows a process when it takes private land for public use. Once public improvement plans identify land that might be affected by eminent domain, the government will generally provide a notice of intent to the property owner.

The notice of intent will include the parameters of the property and the proposed use. The government will then make an offer to the property owner to purchase the land. If the owner accepts the offer, then the transaction is finalized.

If they cannot agree on a price, the property owner can offer their own property valuation. Sometimes, the property owner can also try to limit the amount of land taken by eminent domain.

There are usually many factors involved in determining whether a property can be taken by eminent domain. If a property owner is faced with an eminent domain action, an experienced attorney can provide advice.