What Is Eminent Domain/Condemnation?

In Georgia, the government has the right to take private property regardless of the owner’s wishes through eminent domain. The government may also condemn a portion of a person’s property for a similar purpose. 

However, the government cannot simply take property at will – instead, the government must pay just compensation for the property, and it may only be used for public use. The state’s use of eminent domain can also be temporary. This means that property may be used for a period of months or years and returned to the owner. 

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Understanding Property Value 

The government is required to pay a property owner just compensation for their land if it is taken through eminent domain or condemnation. The amount paid to the owner must be fair, and is based on a number of factors ranging from the value of the land condemned to the amount any remaining property is devalued because of the condemnation. Homeowners may challenge the amount of compensation the government must pay if they feel that the government’s offer was not adequate. 

Landowner Rights 

While the government has the power to take land through eminent domain or condemnation, landowners have rights as well. The Landowner’s Bill of Rights (HB 1313) limits the scope of eminent domain and only permits condemnation when: 

  • The possession or use of the land benefits the public good
  • The land would be for public utilities.
  • The property title is clouded. 
  • There is unanimous consent. 
  • The purchase of the land would remedy a blight.
  • The acquisition of the land would be for the purpose of building roads or channels of trade and travel

The government may have tremendous power through eminent domain, but landowners have rights including the right to just compensation and the right to reasonable forewarning of eminent domain.  


Can I Refuse Eminent Domain?

Eminent domain is a legal principle that allows a government entity to take private property for public use. However, property owners do have rights in these situations that can sometimes enable them to refuse or resist an eminent domain taking.

In the United States, the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution declares that private property shall not be taken for public use without "just compensation". This means that if your property is seized under eminent domain, you are entitled to fair market value for your property.

Refusing an eminent domain taking outright is challenging because the government has a legal right to take private property for public use. However, you can challenge the taking on several grounds. One common challenge is to dispute whether the taking is for a legitimate public use. If the government can't justify the taking as necessary for public use, a court may refuse to allow it.

Another challenge can be made on the grounds of just compensation. If you believe that the government's offer does not represent the fair market value of the property, you can dispute this in court. In some cases, courts have ruled in favor of property owners, and the eminent domain taking has been halted until fair compensation has been agreed upon.

Furthermore, some states have additional laws that provide further protection to property owners faced with eminent domain. These protections can sometimes allow a property owner to refuse eminent domain taking, particularly in cases where the property has special historical, cultural, or personal significance.

In conclusion, while it is difficult to outright refuse an eminent domain taking, property owners do have legal avenues they can explore to challenge the taking or ensure they receive fair compensation. Consultation with an experience Cumming, GA eminent domain lawyer from our firm is advised to fully understand your rights and options. 


Don't hesitate to reach our to our firm! Contact us  today by calling (770) 574-6688 


 

Are You Prepared for The Government To Take Your Land?

Mile Handford's experienced team of attorneys have established a preeminent Condemnation/Eminent Domain Practice that serves all of Georgia. 

Led by Partner Joshua Scoggins, our team's knowledge of the law and extensive experience working with GDOT, local government transportation departments and utility providers helps achieve the best outcome for our clients both in terms of maximizing the compensation paid for their property and also minimizing the harm to their remaining land.

Infographic on Eminent Domain and Your Rights

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Miles Hansford, LLC

  • Joshua A. Scoggins Photo
    Joshua A. Scoggins
    Attorney & Partner
    Josh Scoggins has extensive experience representing clients in real estate related matters including purchase and sale transactions, real estate development, construction law, commercial leasing, easement acquisition, utility issues, title disputes, ...
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