Do I have a way to fight eminent domain?

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2022 | Real Estate Law |

Owning your own home and land is the American dream. After all, the whole idea of “putting down roots” starts with owning your own family home. However, regardless of how long your family has owned your land and home, the federal and state government have the ability to take it, legally.

Wait, the government can take my home?

Yes, through eminent domain. Eminent domain is the legal process where your local, state or federal government initiates a legal proceeding to take your land for some “public use.” That right is actually enshrined in our Constitution’s Takings Clause (the Fifth Amendment): “private property [shall] be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Subsequent case law has established that this empowers governments to take private property for public use, but those governments are required to provide just compensation to the property owners.

What is just compensation?

The idea of, “just compensation” is that the compensation is such that the property owner is made whole again or in the same position as they were in prior to the taking. This can be a hard metric, especially for large parcels of Cummings, Georgia, land and land that has been in the family for generations.

Indeed, the vast majority of eminent domain case is valuing the property where the landowner and the government provide their own experts that argue over the value of the land. Each expert argues over their perceived fair market value of the land and improvements (home, shed, etc.)

Fair market value factors

While experts can, and will, disagree on how to reach a fair market value, most experts agree on the fair market value factors. These are factual circumstances used to determine fair market value. They include zoning, land and home size, accessibility and access, the state of improvements and whether the land has been developed, current and potential uses and any unique characteristics of the Cummings, Georgia, property.

What is not included?

Frustratingly, not everything that you believe should be valued is included. This means that the time, stress and expense of moving are not factored in or included in the determination of fair market value. Another deeply unfair aspect is that a family’s connection to the land, home and neighborhood are also not included in a fair market value analysis.

This is horrifying to many because the court treats this transaction as if it is a fair market transaction when really, it is a forceable seizing of the property where the Cummings, Georgia, property owner has no choice.