How does inverse condemnation work?

On Behalf of | May 12, 2020 | Eminent Domain |

Property owners will likely face frustrations when losing land to eminent domain. Yet, fair compensation can provide appeasement for the seizure of their land. In certain cases, though, the government fails to compensate landowners properly – or at all. These offenses qualify as inverse condemnation.

Understanding inverse condemnation

Inverse condemnation occurs when the government violates the eminent domain provision of the United States Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. This action involves its failure to pay just compensation to property owners upon seizing land. It happens in three distinct ways:

  • A state or federal project takes place on part of the premises of an existing parcel. While the seizure of land leaves the main structure intact, the loss of certain facilities damages the whole property, which the owner does not receive fair compensation for.
  • Property owners cannot use their land in a meaningful way due to government regulations. These restrictions include zoning or environmental laws which could cause them economic losses.
  • The government fails to compensate a property owner properly after seizing their land.

Fighting inverse condemnation

Ohio’s threshold for proving inverse condemnation is high. Property owners must first draft a writ of mandamus, compelling the government to exercise its duties in the proper manner. The writ will only receive approval if it provides unassailable evidence of unjust taking. In the writ, property owners must:

  • Show that the government took or damaged their property
  • Prove that they have financial interest the property taken or damaged
  • Provide evidence that the property taken or damaged was for a project that the government approved or participated in
  • Show that the government’s activity resulted in the property’s taking or damages

If a judge grants the writ, the property owner will enter further proceedings. These hearings will determine the appropriate compensation for their property. Yet, their writ may face rejection. Or, the property owner may not want to spend time and money filing one. In this case, a 2019 Supreme Court ruling decreed that they can make an action in federal court against inverse condemnation.

Inverse condemnation violates eminent domain laws. When property owners face this unfair practice, they have a right to recourse. An attorney with eminent domain experience can help them achieve it.

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