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What is condemnation?

Condemnation is the power to take private property for a public purpose.  The power of condemnation is also known as the power of eminent domain.

Who can take my property? 

Federal, state and local governments have the power to condemn private property, and this power has been delegated to many governmental agencies. The government has also delegated the power of eminent domain to public utilities. 

Can the State take my property for any reason? 

No. The condemning authority may only take your property for a necessary, public purpose. 

Who decides whether the condemnation of my property is for a public or private purpose? 

Only a judge can decide. Even if the condemning authority believes the condemnation is for a public purpose, a judge can rule otherwise and deny the government the right to take your property. 

Do I have to take the amount the government offers?

No. You are entitled to contest that amount and to receive full compensation.

How will I know whether the government really wants to take my property? 

In most cases, you will learn far in advance of the proposed construction date of the project which may require the taking of your property. Your first knowledge of the project may come from reading a newspaper article or talking to a neighbor. 

In many cases, the public agency will hold a public hearing at which the agency will describe the boundaries of the project, so that you will be able to determine whether your property is included within the project. 

Ultimately, the condemning authority will give you written notice that they intend to condemn your property, and they are required to make you a written offer to purchase your property prior to filing a condemnation action in court.

The Right to Condemn »

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