The state or federal government could take your property without your permission. To some this sounds like an outdated concept that does not happen today. However, eminent domain is fairly common in Arkansas. It is within the government’s right to take property in justification of eminent domain, but property owners are not without rights in the situation.
The United States Constitution ensures property owner rights regarding the taking of their property at both the federal and state levels. You do not have to settle for anything less than the value of your property.
This article explains eminent domain, your rights regarding government seizure of your land, the legal steps to take, and at what point you may need the services of an Arkansas real estate expert witness.
What is eminent domain?
Eminent domain is a seizure of property by the government. It pertains to every government and is not a constitutional recognition but an aspect of government sovereignty. However, the U.S. Constitution structures and limits government power of eminent domain. The Fifth Amendment states that the government must justly compensate property owners whom eminent domain affects. This however did not apply to state governments until the Fourteenth Amendment gave citizens similar protections from the states’ sovereign right to seize property for public use. Though the enforcing amendments are different, the legislative process looks identical whether or not it involves national or state government.
Your eminent domain rights
The Constitution states that for a government entity to activate eminent domain, it must compensate the property owner justly. The final line of the Fifth Amendment reads “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” If the entity gives you an offer that you do not find just and fair, then you can dispute the offer. To dispute a government offer during eminent domain, contact an experienced real estate attorney who will contact a real estate expert witness for help. The expert witness will know everything about filing an expert real estate witness report and the laws pertaining to eminent domain.
How much compensation is considered just in eminent domain?
If the government takes your property under eminent domain, then the acting government entity must pay you for your property’s “highest and best use.” To determine just compensation, you can examine the property’s location and what use for the property would produce the highest profit. For example, you could reasonably sell farming land a couple of miles from town for the purpose of developing a residential community. This rule helps the land owners with valuable land they have not sold.
The next step of the process involves assessing whether or not the reasonable use would increase the value of the property. Because residential property is often of more value than farming land, it would be unjust to pay the property owner for farm land, then after payment to the initial owner increase the value of the land to a residential real estate value, which is typically higher in cost than farming land. To help determine what is “just compensation” of your property, it is important to know your current property value.
A property appraisal can help you understand what your land is currently worth in the case of eminent domain. In the effort of legally getting what is right for your land, a real estate expert witness can be of vast help. For information on real estate expert witness services, contact Ferstl Valuation Services today. Our experts can draft expert real estate witness reports in the case of eminent domain.
What happens if compensation is deemed unjust?
The first step involves hiring an experienced real estate attorney. If the government entity has not compensated you fairly in the case of eminent domain, then you can take the government to court. This is called inverse condemnation. If the government has failed to pay you just compensation for taking your property, then it has violated the Fifth Amendment. As an impacted property owner, you can proceed with inverse condemnation. In many cases, you can also benefit from the assistance of an expert real estate witness. It is important to know the value of your property when fighting for just compensation, and a real estate appraisal can help you determine it.
What to do if your property is being seized
If the local or federal government is seizing your property, then you should to contact a real estate attorney and an Arkansas real estate expert witness to help navigate your rights in eminent domain. “Highest and best use” will be assessed, and the government is required to pay you that amount. Do not settle for less than what you think is deserved for your property. You have rights in eminent domain situations, and it is important to understand them. Call Ferstl Valuation Services to hire an expert real estate witness or getting an expert real estate report drafted for your eminent domain case.