When you are looking at the two terms “eminent domain” and “condemnation,” you should know that they aren’t necessarily the same. Eminent domain in the government’s right to take over a person’s private property, but condemnation is the legal process that takes place that allows the government to use that right.
As a property owner, you may be approached by the government wanting to use eminent domain to take a portion or all of your property for a public project. If that happens, the government will usually offer you a payment for the property and ask that you move out or allow the use of the land if it doesn’t include your home.
The Fifth Amendment makes it legal for the government to use this process to purchase land and property if the compensation is just.
Condemnation is the process by which the property is acquired
While eminent domain gives the government the right to take land with just payment, condemnation sets up the process by which the government can do so. While condemnation may sound a little scary, it may take several forms such as:
- Taking the entire property
- Taking a portion of the property
- Using a portion of the property temporarily
For example, the condemnation may only involve a few feet of land in front of your home to make a street wider, or the condemnation may take the entire property because a new freeway is being laid.
Condemnation can be temporary, which would mean that the property might be “borrowed” while the government needs it. For example, construction crews may need space on your property while working on a nearby project.
Know your rights to protect your property
These are a few things that you need to know about condemnation and eminent domain. If you are approached by the government with a request to purchase your property, you may want to look into your legal options and if you are able to seek greater compensation than what you’re being offered. Remember, the kinds of condemnation may vary, so it’s important to look closely at any contracts that you’re presented with.