How is the compensation for my property determined?
Compensation for your property is determined as the government paying fair market value for the property. Fair market value is the highest price that would be paid on the open market, by a buyer acting at arm’s length, knowing all the facts and not acting under pressure. Fair market value is not a lowball price. You do not have to take the compensation the government offers you. Often the government will deposit into court what it thinks your property is worth. You can withdraw this deposit and still claim that your property is worth more than the amount of the deposit.
Can the government take my property without making me an offer of compensation?
No. The government cannot take your property without making an offer of compensation. The government is required to obtain an appraisal and make a written offer of compensation to the owner of a record of the property to be taken before the agency commences court proceedings. The offer of compensation cannot be less than the agency’s appraisal of the property. The government agency must also provide a property owner with a summary of the basis for the compensation amount in the appraisal.
Am I required to accept the government’s offer of compensation for my property?
No. A property owner is not required to accept the government agency’s offer of compensation. The property owner can make a counteroffer or assert a higher value of the property once the eminent domain complaint is filed in court. Property owners and business owners often receive higher compensation than the amount offered by the government agency by asserting a claim for greater compensation. Eminent domain lawyers should be contacted to evaluate each case on its own merits and determine whether the government’s offer of compensation is fair or whether greater compensation may be claimed.
Am I entitled to compensation if the government wants to take only a part of my property?
Yes, you are entitled to compensation if the government wants to take only part of your property. The government must provide compensation for the value of the part of the property to be taken, along with compensation for the damage to the remaining property. Damage to the remaining property is called “severance damages.” “Severance damages” range from nonexistent to close to the value of the entire property. Experienced attorneys in California eminent domain law and its process should be consulted to determine whether there is a claim for severance damages and assist in conducting an appraisal of the severance damages.
Are business losses compensable?
Yes, some business losses are compensable for businesses affected by eminent domain claims. A business owner may be entitled to any loss of business “goodwill” caused by the taking of property on which the business is located. “Goodwill” is the benefits that accrue to a business as a result of its location, reputation for dependability, skill, or quality, and any other circumstances resulting in probable retention of old or acquisition of new patronage. How the business’s income translates into goodwill is determined by experienced business appraisers. Some businesses possess no goodwill value, while others possess thousands or millions of dollars of goodwill value. An eminent domain law group should be consulted to determine whether there is a claim for loss of business goodwill and help conduct a business goodwill appraisal by working with business appraisers with experience in California eminent domain law and commercial lease valuations. As we work on your case, our lawyers will explain the eminent domain compensation process.