While it may be difficult to believe, there are certain circumstances in which the government may have a valid claim to take your Florida property. Eminent domain is the term used to describe the government’s constitutional right to take private property for the benefit of the public. If this happens to you, it is in your interests to know how to protect yourself and handle the situation in a way that is best for your long-term financial well-being.
Eminent domain most often applies in situations in which a community project will require additional land, such as the expansion of a road, installation of utility lines or another project that will benefit the public as a whole. In order for the government to claim land, it must offer the property owner fair compensation. If your property is subject to eminent domain, it is in your interests to know how to approach the situation in a way that will benefit you.
The eminent domain process
If you receive notice that your property is subject to eminent domain, quick action will be necessary in order to protect your interests as much as possible. You may expect the following steps to occur:
- An appraiser may come to your property to determine if it is suitable for the proposed project and what a fair market value for your property would be.
- You may ask for a copy of any survey or appraisal of your property done by the government.
- You will likely then receive an offer from the government to purchase your property that is, at minimum, the appraised amount.
- After receiving the offer, you have the right to negotiate a higher amount or better terms for your property.
- If unable to come to an agreement, the government may move forward with an eminent domain court procedure.
At all points during this process, you have the right to fight the eminent domain efforts or seek the best possible price for your property. You may benefit from an explanation of your rights as the property owner and what you can do to secure the maximum amount of compensation from a government offer. Before you agree to terms or make any important decisions regarding your property, you may want to seek an assessment of your case and the specific legal options available to you.