Can You Get Relocation Compensation?

If an eminent domain taking is forcing you to move your family or business, you may be able to recover those moving expenses!

Stock photo.

Does Georgia Law Provide Eminent Domain Relocation Compensation for Property Owners?

It’s bad enough that your property is in the path of one of GDOT’s latest projects. And they’re taking your property, like it or not. To add insult to injury, what they’re taking means you have to move. It’s not easy, it’s not cheap, and frankly, it’s not fair.

That begs the question: Whether it’s your home or your business, are you entitled to relocation compensation when the government takes your property?

Luckily, the answer may be yes, if you play your cards right.

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Can the government take my property and force me to relocate?

Georgia eminent domain law does allow the government, usually GDOT, to take your property for reasons specified in the law. Whether or not you must relocate depends on how much they take and what effect the taking has on the remainder of your property.

For example, let’s say your home is on a one-acre parcel of property. GDOT decides to take a portion of your land, but it just happens to be where your septic tank is. That’s a huge expense, and in any case, you can’t just plop a septic tank anywhere. Or, perhaps GDOT needs the crucial part of your land that allows you access to a road. Without it, there’s no way to even get to your house. In cases like these, the taking might make it impossible to live in your home.

Setbacks: An amount of space or clearance between a structure and the edges of a property required by the municipality.

You have to move.

From the business side, let’s say you run a restaurant. One day, the government takes the part of your property with the drive-thru lane and the entire parking lot for a utility or drainage easement. They might even need a piece of the land where your building itself sits – meaning the building is condemned. In cases like these, you no longer have the very thing driving your business.

Again, you have to move.

The government can, in some cases, directly force you to move. In most cases (like the examples above), the need to relocate is a byproduct of the effects of the eminent domain taking on the property’s suitability for use. The question at that point is, what relocation benefits might you seek after the condemnation of property occurs?

Does Georgia eminent domain law allow for relocation benefits?

The law allocates relocation benefits to most people forced to move by eminent domain takings. Georgia law is explicit in its adherence to U.S. law, specifically the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (Uniform Act), as amended by the Uniform Relocation Act Amendments of 1987.

Georgia relocation laws reside in Title 32 of the Georgia Code. The statute directs relocation reimbursement following Section 210 of the Uniform Act.

What exactly does the law say about relocation expenses?

According to the Uniform Act, the federal government won’t approve grants to any “displacing agency” – read that as “state agency” for our purposes – unless they provide certain assurances, which the law goes on to explain.

Here’s where your compensation comes in. Section 201 essentially says that state agencies that receive federal funds have to provide fair and reasonable relocation payments under the same rules as the federal government.

Under Section 205, not only are you entitled to relocation assistance, but you’re also supposed to be allowed a “reasonable” amount of time to find a “comparable” replacement for the property you can no longer inhabit.

It’s vital to note words like “fair” and “reasonable” in the law. They create gray areas. What is fair and reasonable to the government almost certainly won’t be fair and reasonable to you. That’s where a dedicated eminent domain attorney can help you. Feel free to call us any time at 1-888-391-1339.

Relocation expenses include reimbursement for expenses of the move. Legal expenses and lawyer fees are included only if the condemning authority abandons the project or does not possess the power of eminent domain (which is very unlikely). 

What relocation expenses can I get?

The benefits you may receive will depend on your particular situation and circumstances. The law requires the condemning authority to plan ahead of time to help those their projects may displace.

Whether you are a homeowner or a business, here are some benefits the law says you may receive:

  • An interview concerning your needs and preferences regarding your relocation
  • Reasonable expenses incurred moving yourself, your family, your business, your farm, or other personal property
  • Compensation for the loss of tangible personal property as a result of the move
  • Reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred searching for a replacement property

Are there relocation reimbursements specific to homeowners?

Homeowners displaced by eminent domain takings may be entitled to additional compensation under certain circumstances. Essentially, displaced homeowners may be entitled to a payment of up to $22,500, which includes the following elements:

  • The difference in cost of the new dwelling versus what the seizing authority paid for the one you’re losing (for example, if GDOT pays you $200,000 for your home, and a comparable home costs $220,000, that extra $20,000 – with a few strings attached – is added to the payment)
  • Financing and debt service costs of acquiring a new property, as long as the property they are taking has a mortgage
  • Title fees, recording fees, and closing costs incidental to the purchase of the replacement dwelling

There are, of course, some rules. To qualify, the home you’re being forced to leave must have been yours for 180 days. Also, you must acquire the replacement dwelling within one year of the final payment for the property the government took.

What relocation expenses can business owners and farmers seek?

Business relocation laws are packaged with residential laws, but there are some differences in the statute. Business relocation costs can be an enormous burden, and there are many costs to consider, including:

  • How much will a new space cost to buy or lease?
  • How much will it cost to relocate inventory?
  • How much will new signage cost, if applicable?
  • Will there be legal expenses incurred in my lease or purchase negotiations?

You may argue some or all of these as reasonable relocation expenses, but you may have to fight to get them. This is where our eminent domain attorney can help.

Additionally, business owners, farmers, and nonprofits can seek up to $10,000 for expenses related to reestablishing their operations. You may be able to recover up to $20,000 under specific circumstances.

Again, you can argue what constitutes a “reasonable” expense related to “relocation” and “reestablishing” operations. We would advise you to hire a Georgia eminent domain attorney, as we argue these points regularly and have effective methods of negotiating with condemning authorities like GDOT.

What relocation benefits should I fight for against the government?

When seeking relocation benefits from the government, you should request that it cover moving expenses, property search and acquisition expenses, and your time.

The gray area in the law is where these fights often occur. You should fight for any expense you incur relating to your relocation – every dime. Remember, it was not your idea nor intention to move. You had no choice, and it isn’t fair for you to foot the bill for a move you never wanted.

Moving Expenses

What if you have many valuable and fragile antiques which require more expensive assistance to move safely? Or, perhaps you have a workshop whose tools and equipment are heavy and difficult to move. Maybe you decide to move out of state, and the extra distance poses an additional cost.

Property Search and Acquisition Expenses

You aren’t just buying a property sight unseen. You need to investigate it. You may need to inspect the home, septic system, well, plumbing, roof, electrical, and so on. What about the time you must spend searching and viewing properties? What about a lawyer to review contracts? These costs increase for businesses.


The law says you should have reasonable time to find a replacement property. What if your property was unique? Perhaps it had features no other property did, meaning there isn’t a comparable property. What if the market is highly competitive with low supply? It could (and has) taken more than a year for some people to find homes. What if you’re in a highly desirable school district and homes simply aren’t for sale? And what if the government’s offer on your property doesn’t cover the outstanding mortgage? Qualifying for a new loan will be difficult, and negotiating an increase in the government’s offer may take significant time.

That’s just scratching the surface. There are far more examples than we can comfortably list.

Why should I hire a lawyer to help with eminent domain relocation compensation?

There are a few reasons to consider hiring a dedicated eminent domain attorney to represent you as you seek relocation compensation. The foremost reason is that relocation expenses are just one part of the compensation you should be seeking.

As eminent domain attorneys, our goal is to help you seek maximum compensation for the property the government is taking from you – including the cost of moving if you must. Before you start thinking about moving expenses, you should focus on maximizing the value of your property. The government’s initial offer isn’t the end unless you accept it.

We recommend you hire a dedicated eminent domain attorney to handle all of the details. The earlier in the eminent domain process you consult with an attorney, the better. And because we only charge an attorney’s fee out of any additional money we’re able to secure over your initial offer, hiring us sooner costs you nothing extra!2

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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