The power of the federal and state government to take possession of your property for public use is, in some cases, questionable. There are many criteria that a government agency – which, firstly, has the right to exercise eminent domain – must meet before it can enact that power to take your property. In some cases, the government agency has not done its due diligence regarding the condemnation of your property. Other times, the project favors developers who simply want your land for a new development that could bring in tax dollars.
Holding government agencies accountable
A state establishes its right to condemn properties under eminent domain under both the US constitution and the Ohio Constitution. Despite this authority, here are three examples of common defenses when a government agency condemns your property:
- Insufficient authority: A court must approve a state agency’s use of eminent domain. The agency could have potentially skipped, missed or avoided certain state legal obligations in the process.
- There is not a legitimate public purpose for the project: If the agency cannot back up its proposal with a valid public utility, you may have a good defense against the project on the grounds of it infringing on your constitutional rights.
- Your property isn’t necessary for the project: If the project does not actually need your property for its intended use, you can provide a defense against the eminent domain claim.
Protecting your property rights
Just because an eminent domain proposal includes your property, that doesn’t mean you’re out of options. An attorney experienced in eminent domain cases can support your constitutional rights and utilize every viable opportunity for your property. If an eminent domain claim is legitimate, an attorney can also argue for better compensation, so you don’t incur a loss. Your property is essential to you. Don’t give it up without exercising your legal rights.