Williams and Walsh - Eminent Domain

Glossary

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Access
The ability to enter and/or exit a parcel of property from a public roadway.

Condemn
The action of taking private property for a public use or public necessity.

Condemnation
The procedure a governmental or quasi-governmental agency must use to take private property for a public use.

Consequential Damages
See severance damages.

Constitutional Rights
The federal and state constitution guarantees certain rights to citizens. One such right is the payment of just compensation by the government or quasi-government entity for property taken in an eminent domain proceeding.

Contiguous
Parcels of land under common ownership that physically adjoin one another and share a common boundary.

Direct Damages
The value of the land and any improvements to the land which the government or quasi-government entity acquires in an eminent domain proceeding. The market value must be determined based upon the highest and best use of the land and improvements which are being taken.

Eminent Domain
The constitutional power granted to governmental or quasi-governmental agencies to take private property for public use or public necessity.

Fair Market Value
An estimate of the price/value of land and the improvements thereon based on what a knowledgeable, unpressured, and willing buyer will pay for the property to a willing and informed seller in an arm’s length transaction.

Highest and Best Use
A concept in real estate demonstrating how the use of a parcel of property that is both physically possible and financially feasible produces the highest, greatest value for that property in the marketplace.

Indirect Damages
See severance damages.

Inverse Condemnation
Actions taken by the government or a quasi-governmental agency which effectively result in a property owner losing rights to and/or the value of his /her property even though the government does not actually acquire any title to that property. (See regulatory takings.)

Just Compensation
The amount of money a government must pay to a property owner to compensate for the damages caused to the owner by the taking of the owner’s property and rights thereto. Just compensation should result in the owner being in the same financial position after the taking as before the taking.

Partial Taking
An acquisition of property by the government or a quasi-governmental agency through the use of its powers of eminent domain that involves less than the entire parcel of property owned by the owner.

Property
Under the law, property is something that is owned. It is divided into two categories: real property and personal property. Most eminent domain cases only allow compensation for real property. Real property consists of land and all of the improvements that have been constructed on the land and permanently affixed to it.

Public Purpose
The justification a government must rely on to acquire private property under the powers of eminent domain. Examples of projects which satisfy the public purpose include roads, parks, schools, other public buildings, or any other endeavor where the purpose of the project serves a public good or necessity.

Regulatory Taking
A government or quasi-governmental entity enacts a statute, ordinance, or other governmental regulation that results in a property owner’s loss of all beneficial use of a parcel of property. Title to the property does not transfer to the government.

Relocation Benefits
Payments a government must make to any occupant of a parcel of property who is forced to move to a new location as a result of a taking because owner/occupant of a parcel of property cannot continue to use property. Relocation benefits are not limited to owners. Tenants or other occupants who are not owners are also entitled to these benefits. Relocation benefits are intended to compensate an occupant for costs that that occupant incurs in moving a household or business to the new location where those costs would not have been incurred in the absence of the relocation.

Remainder
The portion of a parcel of property that a landowner still owns after the government exercises its powers of eminent domain to acquire a partial taking (portion) from that parcel of property.

Severance Damages
The loss of value to the remainder of a parcel of property that is above and beyond the fair market value of the land and structures taken by the government.

Taking
The land and structures the governmental acquires on a parcel of property through the exercise of eminent domain powers.

Total Taking
An acquisition of an entire parcel of property by the government or a quasi-governmental agency through the use of its powers of eminent domain.

Uneconomic Remainder
A remainder which has little or no value in the real estate marketplace because the partial taking from the original parcel left the remainder without any access or with an irregular shape or size that makes the parcel unusable.

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Eminent Domain Areas of Practice