Eminent Domain vs. Condemnation: What Are the Differences?
Eminent domain refers to the power of the government to take property from an individual or business and use it for public purposes, provided it gives them due compensation.
The government accomplishes this taking by filing a condemnation proceeding. Understanding the difference between eminent domain vs condemnation can help property owners understand their legal rights.
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How Are Eminent Domain vs Condemnation Different from Each Other?
The primary difference between eminent domain and condemnation is that one is a right, and another describes a process where a government actor can take someone’s property.
Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private land for public use if it fairly compensates the landowner. In contrast, condemnation is the procedure by which the government takes someone’s land.
What Is Eminent Domain?
The “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution gives the government the power to take private property if it uses the land to benefit the public. However, the government must provide the landowner with fair compensation for the amount of land taken and the duration of the possession.
For example, the government may seize a plot of land to build a new post office. Or they may buy a strip of land to expand on an existing highway.
In some cases, private actors (such as a business) may take property if the land will benefit the public. Like the government, however, they must follow the proper procedure and provide adequate compensation.
What Is Condemnation in Real Estate?
Condemnation in real estate typically references the government filing a lawsuit to take someone’s property. The procedure they must follow includes the guidelines in the Constitution and those in the applicable state or federal law.
For example, government actors in Illinois must follow the nuanced Illinois Eminent Domain Act, which explains when private property can be taken for public use. One example is modernizing the O’Hare airport.
Condemnation proceedings also include inverse condemnation claims. This claim is a way for private citizens to object to a government seizure of their land. Or they can argue that the taking was lawful but they did not receive fair compensation.
Again, the circumstances and applicable law dictate what compensation is just in any given case. An eminent domain lawyer can help landowners understand if the government overstepped in their situation and how they can fight the seizure of their property.
When Can the Government Take Someone’s Property?
The government can take someone’s property in several different scenarios. One is if it seeks to use the property to benefit the public.
In other words, it may take the property because it needs additional land to carry out its other powers or accomplish a government objective. For example, the government may seize land to build more roads so it’s easier for people to travel around the country.
To constitute a legal taking, the reason for the possession must be for the benefit of the public and be in exchange for fair compensation.
If the government takes someone’s house and gives it to another private citizen, this is likely an unlawful taking. Likewise, it may be illegal if the government does not pay the property owner a fair amount to compensate them for depriving them of their property.
The Eminent Domain Lawyers at Flint Cooper Can Help
When the full force of the government threatens to take someone’s property, it can be incredibly intimidating for the landowner to know what to do.
Further, they may feel like the manner or reason for the taking does not add up and want to know their options. A condemnation lawyer can investigate the claim and advise property owners on their legal rights.
Flint Cooper provides premier legal representation to clients facing condemnation actions or looking to fight back against a government taking.
When facing the full strength of the government, individuals and businesses benefit from having a competent and knowledgeable legal team with the unique knowledge to handle these claims.
Our team includes founding partner Ethan Flint, who has represented thousands of clients in individual and class action lawsuits against the government and faceless corporations like Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
If you are facing a condemnation action or have questions about your legal rights, contact our dedicated team today.
About the author:
Ethan is a founder and managing partner of Flint Cooper, a law firm specializing in complex litigation. Ethan has extensive experience in personal injury cases, representing clients injured by asbestos, defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and leads the firm’s government takings practice.