When you buy a piece of real estate, whether you invest in a commercial property for your business or a home for your family, you expect you make use of the property until you eventually sell it or bequeath it to your loved ones after your death.
Often that will be what happens to real property, but some homeowners are not as fortunate. Their property may be in a location that has high demand. Eventually, they could be subjected to eminent domain claims that force them to sell.
In an eminent domain scenario, the government essentially forces the sale of real property to allow for a project to move forward, like a highway expansion. Thankfully, some property owners are able to fight back against eminent domain claims and the condemnation of their property.
How do people fight eminent domain?
Homeowners might go to court to prevent the condemnation of their property or fight for more compensation when facing a loss of property due to eminent domain. State and even federal courts often have to clarify the rules surrounding eminent domain when property owners try to fight back.
Sometimes, the businesses and government entities pushing for the condemnation and acquisition of multiple parcels will prevail in court. Other times, they lose. A recent court case out of Virginia is an excellent example of homeowners successfully fighting back over an eminent domain claim.
Specifically, the case involved a pipeline and landowners essentially forced to give up their property. A judge gave the company the right to the land back in 2018 while the dispute raged on, and a jury recently ruled on behalf of owners who tried to fight an easement for the pipeline on some of their acreage.
Despite the family refusing to sell, the company pushed for the easement and cleared old-growth trees from their property, while offering a little over $100,000 in compensation for those behaviors. The jury eventually awarded the owners almost the full amount that they saw in the lawsuit against the company, which was more than half a million dollars.
Eminent domain claims aren’t always successful
Rather than simply accepting a first offer when a piece of real property you own faces an eminent domain claim, you need to look into the situation.
Sometimes, you may be able to show that the price offered is not the fair market value for the property. Other times, you may be able to request that they circumvent your property by altering their plan. You may even be able to challenge the assertion that the project is necessary for public benefit.