Condemnation and Property Rights

“Condemned” isn’t just for derelict buildings. There’s an important legal principle at work, and it may be working against you. We can help.

Fight for Just Compensation With an Experienced Condemnation Lawyer

If you’ve received a notice that your property is being taken by the government, your stress levels are likely sky high. Making the issue worse is that most people don’t know much about the process until they’re dragged into it. Suddenly, condemnation and eminent domain become words to fear. 

Knowledge can help you exert control over a deeply disruptive situation, so below are answers to some of the most common questions property owners have on condemnation.

If you need an experienced condemnation attorney to protect your rights and fight for maximum compensation, call for a free case evaluation.

Condemnation vs. Eminent Domain: A simple definition

Land condemnation is the process by which the government exercises eminent domain – they “condemn” your land and take it. Eminent domain is the legal principle that the government can take your private property in order to use it for public good. When a property is condemned, it is now or will soon be transferred from private ownership to the government or a government-like agency.

Learn More: Eminent Domain Overview

Who has the power to condemn?

The Georgia government and its agencies at the state, county, and municipal levels have the power to condemn. Entities partnered with the government, like public utilities, may also have condemnation power.

Can my property be taken for just any reason?

No. The government must be taking it for a legitimate public purpose. That doesn’t mean everyone in the public can always physically use it, but it does mean a large number of people should benefit from it. A common example would be improving road conditions, such as the expansion of a highway.

Condemned land must be used within five years of condemnation. A condemner can’t stockpile properties with no specific purpose.

What is inverse condemnation?

Typically, the government will pay the landowner just compensation and take possession of the property. But sometimes the government’s behavior will effectively create a taking of an impacted property, even though no official declaration was made. One example would be construction blocking off all access to your place of business. This is called inverse condemnation, and you are still entitled to just compensation.

Can I fight the condemnation?

When the government notifies you that your land has or will be condemned, your first instinct might be to try and resist the condemnation. It’s your land. How can anyone just come and take it from you?

Determining whether a condemnation action is appropriate requires a case-by-case analysis, but it is important to note: Condemnation actions are almost never successfully challenged on the merits. Instead, the most fruitful battle will be your push for every bit of the just compensation you’re entitled to.

Can the government take just a piece of my property?

Yes, they will only take what they need. If the government is only taking a piece of your property, they may argue that your remaining property will increase in fair market value due to the project they are working on. In reality, taking just a portion of your property can render the rest of it worth much less. Condemnation of property is often a very nuanced and highly-complicated process.

Why does the government get to take my property?

Whether or not condemnation is fair, it’s a long-established legal principle. As a practical matter, building things like highways and airports would be effectively impossible without condemnation. The main protection you are entitled to as a property owner is just compensation for the property being taken.

Learn More: Examples of Eminent Domain and How Your Rights Have Changed Over the Years

Don’t just accept fair market value as decided by the government.

An experienced attorney can help you discover the highest and best possible use for your land. Your fight for maximum compensation begins with a free case evaluation.

How is just compensation calculated?

Just compensation can be thought of as fair market value, or the price your property would go for on the open market under normal circumstances. If the government takes just a portion of your property, you are entitled to just compensation for that portion plus compensation for any lost value to the remaining parts of your property.

It is primarily up to expert appraisers to determine what the value of the property is, and you must fight for maximum compensation by arguing the highest and best use of your land. This is where a Georgia eminent domain and condemnation attorney can use their experience for you.

When will the government take possession of my property?

Generally, not until after they provide just compensation. There is, however, one method by which the government can take possession of your property before a final determination of just compensation has been reached. This method applies to public road and transportation needs.

When the government employs this method, they estimate just compensation and deposit that amount with the court. While the landowner may contest that amount and get a lawyer to help negotiate it higher, the title to the property transfers on deposit.

What is an easement by condemnation?

An easement is the right of someone else to use or access your property for a specific purpose. For example, properties adjacent to public areas may have easements for things such as power or sewer lines. An easement is a right to use the property, not ownership of the property. It is typically accounted for with additional compensation during the government’s eminent domain condemnation proceedings against your property.

How can a condemnation attorney help me?

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to stop the government from taking your property in the vast majority of condemnation cases. The government can take private land if it’s for a public purpose or public necessity (just take a look at all the latest GDOT projects). What an attorney can help you with is insisting on compensation that is both just and adequate, and calculating what that actually means based on the unique features and elements of your property.

The government wants to get the best possible deal on your land. Therefore, you should assume they are investigating the value of your property with exactly the effort and expense required by condemnation laws, no more. Having your advocate conduct an investigation while prioritizing your best interests is one of the best reasons to hire an eminent domain attorney.

Why choose the Georgia Eminent Domain Law Firm to fight for you?

The size and power of the government shouldn’t deter you from negotiating over your condemned property. But it’s not much of a fair fight if you don’t have expertise and resources in your corner.

Our attorneys have decades of combined experience working for the government on condemnation cases. They draw on that inside knowledge to fight for deserving landowners seeking everything they’re entitled to under the law.

The best part? Our firm works for you on a contingency fee basis.2 That means there’s no up-front costs, and if we can’t get you any additional compensation over the government’s initial appraisal of your property, you don’t pay us anything.

The initial case evaluation is completely free and there is no obligation to hire us afterward.

Submit our online form or call 1-888-391-1339 any time to get started!

Get a free case
evaluation today.

There are only a handful of attorneys in GA who practice eminent domain exclusively. And even fewer with DOT experience. That’s why it’s always worth it to get a free case evaluation.

Here’s how it works:

1) Tell us about your situation.

2) We research your property as needed, using DOT maps, our own technology, and experience to see the exact effects.

3) We let you know what we think a fair offer would be. This evaluation is free, and there’s no
pressure or obligation to hire us after.

But please don’t wait to act. Waiting can hurt your case, and the cost is the same: free.

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