When it comes to having property seized by eminent domain, a series of court decisions have ruled that an owner of a property must be provided “just compensation” for his or her property. However, the factors that determine just compensation tend to vary from state to state, including California.
What does “just compensation” mean?
There is a simple rule that governs eminent domain: The owner of a property must be justly compensated. Going back to the 19th century, Supreme Court cases have generally given the government a wide berth when it comes to its ability to use eminent domain powers, setting relatively few limits on the reasons those powers could be used. However, the government has consistently ruled that the owners of the land must be paid “fair market value” for the seizure of their property. Of course, determining the just compensation that’s due to a property owner is not easy.
What are some of the factors that influence just compensation?
Many factors go into determining just compensation. These include:
- The price of the land in the current market if it is being sold under normal circumstances, otherwise known as fair market value
- The value of any improvements made to the land
- Damage done to the property not seized but impacted by the seizure of the property
- Potential benefits to the landowner, which would reduce the fair market value offered by the government to him or her
If you are having a dispute with a level of government over eminent domain, you should consider reaching out to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the size of the property in question, its potential value and the reason the government is attempting to seize it, you could be entitled to more money than you are being offered.