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Why do people go to court over eminent domain claims?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2023 | Real Estate

Homeownership is a goal for many people in Tennessee. Those who have saved up a down payment, qualified for a mortgage or even inherited a property from a family member will generally expect to continue owning and using that property until they decide to sell it or pass it down to the next generation.

For a very small number of people with real property holdings, public projects end up compromising their ownership rights. Under eminent domain laws in Tennessee, it’s possible to force the sale of real property, including residential homes and agricultural properties, for the completion of a project that benefits the public. Highway expansions and utility infrastructure are among the projects that may trigger eminent domain claims against a property and eventually the condemnation of a home. Why do those facing an eminent domain claim sometimes choose to go to court?

They want to stop the public works project

Sometimes, the underlying reason that people want to challenge an eminent domain claim has to do with their skepticism about the public benefit of the project. There have been cases where property owners have challenged the claim that a project was for the benefit of the public and that the condemnation of their property was legal. Other times, people may challenge the inclusion of their property in particular in the project plans. Sometimes, reworking the plans can be enough to protect specific properties from eminent domain claims. Such approaches are only available in very specific scenarios.

They want fair compensation

More people who had to court after receiving an offer for the purchase of their property related to an eminent domain matter do so because the offer is unreasonably low. Technically, the authorities seeking to acquire properties for public projects in Tennessee should offer the fair market value for each property affected by the project. However, sometimes developers and other parties involved with the project are unaware of factors that make a particular property more valuable than other properties of similar size and location. Other times, the offers are unreasonably low for every property owner.

Homeowners who are concerned that they will not only face the forced sale of their home but also a major financial loss during the transaction can obtain an appraisal and other corroborating evidence helping to establish that the property is worth far more than the amount offered for its purchase. Going to court can either help someone protect their property from condemnation or maximize the compensation that they receive for the forced sale of their Tennessee real estate.