Board-Certified In Construction Law By The Florida Bar

What do I do when the government wants my land?

On Behalf of | Jul 15, 2022 | Uncategorized

Owning a large swath of land is a badge of family or corporate pride. Often, we have built a business, home or made some other generational improvements. Then, you get a letter from the government stating they will take your land. They may even offer you a pittance in exchange. What do Floridians do now?

What is eminent domain?

Eminent domain is the judicial process where the government (state and federal) legally takes your property, but they must provide you just compensation. Indeed, the Fifth Amendment allows for this type of handling, as long as the taking is for a “public use” and the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, private property owner receives “just compensation.”

Can I fight the government?

Yes. You can fight eminent domain. However, your fight is often over the amount of compensation, not to stop its taking. You can argue that the proposed taking is not for public use, but the case law on this point is expansive and permissive to the point where battling over this point is almost always a losing battle. Of course, your lawyer will still likely argue it because there is always a chance. But, it is rarely a fight that you can win.

What is the fight over then?

Nonetheless, the United States Constitution provides all Fort Lauderdale, Florida, property owners a modicum of protection from land taking, but it is that the government only owes landowners “just compensation,” but it does not stop the taking itself. As such, your fight with the government will usually focus on determining what qualifies as an appropriate value for your property.

Just compensation?

Just compensation should be such that the landowner is made whole, or in the same financial position as if the eminent domain never occurred. In other words, you are entitled to the full value of your land, but the valuation method gets complicated.

Fair market value

The property valuation methodology usually determines the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, property’s fair market value. But, property owners and the government rarely, if ever, agree on a property’s fair market value, which is why eminent domain cases can end up with both sides presenting property value experts. This can be why it is so important to not go into an eminent domain proceeding alone. Experts will be needed to make sure you get the most value for your property.