Understanding the basic concepts of eminent domain

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2022 | Eminent Domain |

“What is eminent domain”? For many people in Ohio who get involved in these types of legal cases, this is the first question they ask. It’s a good place to start. Understanding the basic concepts of eminent domain can help property owners get a grasp of how their legal involvement in this type of case might work, and how they can maximize the value of their property and property rights.

Eminent domain basics

So, what is eminent domain all about? Well, probably the most basic concept of eminent domain is that it is the power of the government to take private property and then use it for a public purpose, albeit with “just compensation” paid to the property owner for the taking. But, even in that basic definition of eminent domain, there are some key terms to explore further.

What is a “public purpose” in terms of an eminent domain taking? A road or highway, for example, is a public purpose, and is one of the most common reasons for many landowners to see their property subject to an eminent domain action. There are many other examples of public purpose justifications for an eminent domain action as well, but really it just means that the project behind the taking of private property needs to benefit the public at large. So, the government usually can’t take your property and then hand it over to some private entity to build a new housing development, or something like that, for example. The purpose truly needs to be public. If property owners suspect it is not, they can challenge the taking and possibly stop it.

And, what is “just compensation”? If the government can take your land, they must compensate you for it. Just compensation typically means the value of your land or property rights that are subject to a taking. But, that’s where appraisals come in, and different appraisers can oftentimes have vastly different opinions on value. Maximizing value and attempting to increase the compensation you receive is oftentimes the best play for property owners in Ohio who get involved in eminent domain cases.