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What is eminent domain?

The basis for a government taking is found in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Tennessee residents may know it as the "Takings Clause." This clause in the Bill of Rights ensures that private citizens cannot have their land taken from them by the government without also receiving just compensation for their losses.

Eminent domain is just this type of taking. It occurs when the government has an interest in acquiring land that is owned by a private individual. In such a situation the government may claim that the privately owned land is needed in order to serve a public good, and when such an action is taken a person may be faced with the loss of the property they worked hard to obtain.

The concept of a "public good" is relatively broad. For example, a government may seek to take the land of a private citizen to build a road or highway that will serve many throughout the community. It may also involve increasing public space set aside for parks or landmarks, acquiring land on which to build government buildings and obtaining land rights over properties that contain important structures.

When a government wishes to acquire a person's land, it may first attempt to negotiate with them for the purchase of the property in question. If the person refuses then the government may choose to initiate an eminent domain proceeding against them and their property. If this happens, a Tennessee resident may not know where to turn or what to do. Individuals have options when eminent domain proceedings begin, and they can fight for their rights with the help of committed real estate attorneys. This will help ensure their rights are understood and protected.

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