Featured Articles

Below you will find several Featured Articles on specific topics of interest to property owners in eminent domain and taking cases. These articles are written for general information and educational purposes only, and are not intended as legal advice. For a deeper understanding about any topic covered herein, you are advised to consult with an OCA lawyer or other attorney with experience in eminent domain matters. If you are unfamiliar with any of the terms used, please consult our Dictionary of Key Terms.

To read a Featured Article, simply click on the cover and then click on the Read More button. 

Can The Government Abandon An Eminent Domain Taking After Filing? After My Property Has Been Taken From Me? Or After Just Compensation Has Been Finally Determined?

Questions often arise regarding the right of a condemning authority to “abandon” and simply walk away from a condemnation action that has either been threatened, filed, or prosecuted, even to the degree that a final determination (or award) of just compensation has been made. Read this helpful article to understand the concept of “abandonment” and what rights you, as a landowner, may have against the condemnor should it decide not to go forward in its eminent domain taking.

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Abusive Condemnation Actions

Because the government possesses the legal power to take property without the owner’s consent, most property owners believe that they have no defense to an eminent domain taking once they become the target of one. And while it is true that there are limited grounds upon which to challenge a condemnation action, there have been occasions where the power was used in such an abusive and improper way that the property owner was able to prevent the taking.

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Abusive Condemnations

Anatomy of An Eminent Domain Appraisal

It is often said that a condemnation case is all about the appraisals–meaning that the appraisals of both the property owner and the condemning body often play an important and influential role in determining the ultimate just compensation to be paid. Given the important role that appraisals have in an eminent domain case, as a property owner you should familiarize yourself with how to critically review, analyze, and evaluate an eminent domain appraisal by reading this handy article.

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Attorney Fee Issues In An Eminent Domain Case

Some of the most worrisome issues for a landowner faced with in an eminent domain taking are can I afford to retain a lawyer, what should I expect in the way of attorney fees, and are any of my attorney fees recoverable? This helpful Article seeks to address these troubling questions.

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Attorney Fees

What To Do When My Home is Condemned For Alleged Code Violations or Based on Claims That It Is Unsafe or Uninhabitable

The term “condemnation” can sometimes be confusing. When it is used to signal the possible taking of your property by a governmental body because of alleged code violations or claims that the property or structure is unfit, unsafe or uninhabitable, this article may provide you with some helpful information about protecting your property rights.

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Code Violations

A Landowner’s Guide to Understanding the Comparable Sales Approach

The Comparable Sales Approach (also sometimes called the Market Approach or Market Data Approach) is one of the most common valuation and appraisal methodologies for determining the fair market value of property in an eminent domain case. Learn about some of the basic components that make up this approach so you can be better informed in assessing and analyzing a determination of value derived from this approach.

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Comparable Sales

The Payment of Damages as Part of Just Compensation

In a partial taking case it is not uncommon for the project being constructed by the condemning authority to have negative impacts on the owner’s remaining property. If you are dealing with a potential damage claim, read this useful article to learn some of the basic aspects of what makes up damages in an eminent domain case and how they are evaluated and determined. 

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The Landowner’s Deposition in An Eminent Domain Case

For many landowners having to submit to a formal deposition in an eminent domain case can be scary and intimidating. However, if the landowner has a good idea of what to expect and is properly prepared, the deposition should not be a matter of concern. Read about what you can do to make sure you are ready for your deposition.

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What Does Fair Market Value Mean in Determining Just Compensation?

“How will my just compensation be determined?” This is often one of the first questions that a property owner has when faced with an eminent domain taking. In most states the answer relies heavily on the meaning of “fair market value” or “reasonable market value.” Read this helpful Article to understand more about this imporant valuation concept and what factors are typically taken into account in applying fair market value in an eminent domain case.  

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Fair Market Value

My Property is Being Flooded–Is That a Taking That I Can Be Compensated For Under the Constitution?

Over the last several years, regularly occurring flood events have led to significant housing, property and economic losses across the country. When such an event happens, many landowners wonder if the government is to blame and, if so, whether compensation for injury and damage to property may be available under a takings theory. Read this helpful article to gain a basic understanding of this issue and some of the things a landowner may wish to do when confronted with a flood-induced event. 

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A Landowner’s Guide to Understanding the Concept of Highest and Best Use

The concept of Highest and Best Use can be of critical importance in a condemnation case and, in some instances, can be the primary reason for widely divergent opinions of the property’s value between the landowner and the condemning authority. To understand more about the concept and Highest and Best Use and the part it plays in valuation and appraisal methodology in an eminent domain case read this helpful article.

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Highest and Best Use

Dealing With Highway Takings: Landowner Tips and Useful Information

In order to continuously develop, improve and maintain the vast transportation network that makes up America’s highway system each year, large amounts of private property must be acquired, either through voluntary negotiations with property owners or by the exercise of the eminent domain power. As a result, the taking of property for highways generally exceeds the taking of property for all other public purposes. Whether federal, state or local, when the highway department contacts you about a taking of your property, prepare yourself by reading this helpful article. 

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Highway Takings

Inverse Condemnation-A Short Primer

When the government intrudes on your property rights causing significant damage and injury, but does not file an eminent domain action to trigger your right to receive just compensation for the taking, you may have a claim for inverse condemnation. Read about this unique legal remedy that is based on the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

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Inverse Condemnation

What’s In Your Condemnation Clause? Landlord and Tenant Issues That Often Arise When Leased Interests are Impacted By Eminent Domain Takings

In negotiating the terms of a lease, the possibility that the property may be subjected to an eminent domain proceeding is usually one of the last things that landlords and tenants are thinking about. But condemnation actions do happen, and parties to a lease who do not provide for that possibility (or do so in a manner that does not protect their interests) can find themselves at a distinct disadvantage, or worse yet, at risk of losing monetary proceeds which might otherwise compensate them for their losses. Whether you are a landlord or tenant, read this helpful article to determine how you can best protect your property interests in the event they become the subject of an eminent domain taking.

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Leases, Lessors, and Lessees

Making a Necessity Challenge

When property is targeted for an eminent domain taking, the owner will sometimes want to show that the taking is not really necessary to fulfilled the stated public use. After all, shouldn’t the government be required to prove that it has a pressing need to take private property rather then simply a desire to do so. Unfortunately, the law on how a court might view and decide a necessity challenge differs from state to state, and it is not always the case that an owner prevails, even if the evidence shows (1) a lack of need to take the owner’s property and/or (2) the availability of  other property that would satisfy the government’s project needs. Read more to see how the issue of necessity may be addressed in an eminent domain case and what facts might lead a court to find that the taking is not needful. 

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Negotiating With The Condemning Entity From a Position of Strength and Knowledge: Tips to Property Owners Under the Threat of Condemnation

There are many things even a knowledgeable property owner may not know about resolving value differences when the eminent domain power is being threatened. As a consequence owners may leave money on the table that was rightfully their’s or experience other adverse taking impacts that could have been avoided. Read this helpful article to make sure you are negotiating with the government from a position of strength and knowledge.  

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Owner Testimony And Valuation Opinions In An Eminent Domain Case

In most jurisdictions a landowner is allowed to provide testimony and an opinion of value of his or her property in an eminent domain proceeding. But to be a credible and strong witness there are many things a landowner needs to know and be prepared for. Read this handy primer on what to expect when you decide to become a witness in your own case.

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Owner Testimony

How to Become a Knowledgeable and Informed Property Owner

As in all things, knowledge is power. One of the best ways  a landowner can prepare for an anticipated taking of property by the use of eminent domain is to know your property and property rights. Read how you can become a better informed and knowledgeable property owner.

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Property Owner Knowledge

What Does the New Public Infrastructure Bill Mean For Property Owners Facing An Eminent Domain Taking?

With $1.2 trillion in federal funds getting disbursed across the country as part of the recently approved Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, many expect a surge in eminent domain activity as state and local governments advance a host of road, highway, bridge, railway and dam projects. But what about the businesses, companies and individual property owners who will be on the receiving end of all this acquisition activity? What should they be worried about and what can they do to be ready  when the government decides that it needs their property?  If you are an individual or business who may be called upon to support America’s once-in-a-generation investment in its’ public infrastructure with your most valuable asset, your property, read this article that offers some basic and useful advice on how to prepare to meet such a challenge.

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Public Infrastructure Bill

Public Use and Public Purpose

Although the power of eminent domain can only be exercised for a lawful “public use,” the term “public use” has come to mean many different types of uses, some of which may even appear to be private or semi-private in nature.  Read this handy primer on the evolution of the term “public use” and how it is relevant to an eminent domain proceeding.

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Public Use

A Primer on the Federal Trails Act

Don’t wait until a railroad corridor that you thought to be abandoned through your private property starts to be reconfigured into a multi-use trail. Prepare yourself with useful information about the Rails to Trails program and how it could impact you and your property rights.

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Can My Property Be Taken for Urban Renewal Purposes and Transferred to a Private Redeveloper Even If It’s Not Blighted?

A determination of “blight” in regard to a neighborhood, community or commercial area is often a precursor to the government’s ability to take large sections of private property by the exercise of the eminent domain power in order to transfer such areas to private developers for redevelopment projects. If your property is being targetted in this manner, read this helpful article to learn more about what “blight” means and what steps you can possibly take to protect your property and your neighborhood from future acquisition.

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Urban Renewal and Blight