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Understanding eminent domain law

When we own property such as land, we will likely have an assumption that no one can legally take this property away from us. This is a reasonable assumption, but it does not always hold true. Under certain circumstances, the government is entitled to take property from private owners.

The power of the government to take property from private owners is known as eminent domain. There are specific laws in place that govern the eminent domain process. Most notably, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlines a "Takings Clause" which demands that the federal government provides just compensation to those who have their private property taken for private use. The following is an outline of the limits of eminent domain property seizure, and an overview of the rights of private owners.

Why would the government want to take my property?

If the government wants to expand a public project or needs land in a specific location for a particular purpose, your land may be the only suitable option. In this circumstance, they will need to start the process of eminent domain so that they can legally acquire your land.

Does the government need to get my permission?

The government will first approach you to try to negotiate a fair deal to acquire the property with your permission. However, if a deal cannot be reached, and if you as the property owner refuse to sell, a court action may be filed. The government will then need to prove that the taking of your land is for public use and that they have tried and failed to negotiate a sale. If they are successful, they will be able to legally take your property without your permission.

How can I prevent the government from taking my property?

One common way to contest eminent domain is to argue that the land is not being taken for public use. If you can show that there is no clear purpose for the taking of your land, or that the taking of your land will not benefit the public, you may be successful.

Having your land being taken from you against your will by the government can be extremely frustrating and upsetting. There are several ways to contest eminent domain, and the exact strategy will depend on the circumstances surrounding your case in Ohio.

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