Ohio residents under threat of having their property being taken through eminent domain likely have plenty of questions. The concept of eminent domain is relatively unfamiliar to many people, until they are forced to deal with it.
Eminent domain is a process in which the government attempts to take your private property without your permission. The government can do this if it intends to take the property for public use, such as building a road over it as part of a highway development project.
Notice and service
You will first learn of the eminent domain proceeding by a public announcement, which states that your property is subject to being taken by the government for a project. You must also receive personal notice of the government’s intent to take your property.
Under Ohio law, you must be served with this notice at least 30 days before an eminent domain petition is filed. The notice must be served to you by certified mail or by personal service.
Good faith offer
Before the petition is filed, the government must also make a good faith offer to purchase your property. You are under no obligation to say yes, although you can negotiate a deal if you would prefer to try to settle things without a court proceeding.
The government’s offer should be based on an appraisal. If you feel that their offer is too low, you can wait for them to file a petition.
Although the government must ultimately prove to a court their intended use for your land and property, if they do this, you must leave. It is best to at least try to negotiate first.
The petition and answer
If negotiations fail, the government then files an eminent domain petition. You are given an opportunity to respond to the petition with any defenses.
From there, the case moves along like any other court case. You will eventually have a hearing, but before that, you might exchange evidence with the government through the discovery process. Either of you can file pre-trial motions to address any legal issues before the hearing.
At your hearing, the judge listens to the facts and evidence. If the government demonstrates its intended public use for your property, the judge determines an amount of just compensation.
This is the amount of money you will be paid in exchange for your land and property. You have a right to appeal if you do not agree with the decision.
Help is available
These steps provide an overview of an eminent domain case. The steps can be different depending on your specific situation, and eminent domain cases can be extremely complex.
Learning that the government wants to take your home can be frightening and confusing. Our homes are meant to be our places of stability and comfort, so these feelings are understandable.
You are not alone in your fight against the government. An attorney can help you learn your options, advocating for your right to receive a fair value for your property.