The Right to Condemn

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Does the State have the right to take my property? 

It depends. The State has the power of eminent domain. All counties and cities in the State of Florida also have the right of eminent domain. Many state and local governmental agencies and public utilities have the power of eminent domain as well. 

While a specific governmental body or public utility may have the power of eminent domain, that does not necessarily mean that it has the right to take your specific property. If you do not want your property taken, only the Court can require that your property be condemned. If the Department of Transportation, for example, claims that it needs a portion of your property to construct a road, it may not take your property unless you give your consent or the court enters an order allowing the taking. If you do not consent to the condemnation, the condemning authority must prove to the court that your property is reasonably necessary for a public project. While the courts more often than not allow the requested condemnations, there have been several occasions in which the courts have not allowed the proposed condemnation.

Can the State take as much of my property as they want? 

No. The State can only take as much of your property as the court finds is reasonably necessary to accomplish a public purpose. If the court finds that only a portion of the property sought by the state is necessary, it may deny the state the right to take as much of your property as it seeks.

The State is trying to take a portion of my property.  After the taking, the rest of my property will be less valuable or worthless.  Can we force the State to take the entire property? 

No.  The Court cannot require the condemning authority to take more of your property than it wants.  If the taking renders the rest of your property less valuable or worthless, your remedy is a jury award which takes this into consideration. 

The full compensation to which you are entitled includes not only the value of the property taken but also includes compensation for reduction in value to the property which the government does not take.  This compensation is called "severance damages."

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