eminent domain

Eminent Domain: Your Property Isn’t Really Yours

Did you know that owning the deed to your house or property doesn’t fully entitle you to complete ownership? You may be the one paying the mortgage, but the truth is that the US government still has the right to come and take your property at any time based on something called eminent domain.

From 1998 to 2002, more than 10,000 properties across 41 states faced condemnation. They were then handed over to private developers. What exactly is eminent domain? Grounded in the 5th Amendment, it is the right for the government to seize private property without the owner’s consent. The owner must receive just compensation and the property must be claimed for public use.

Although many Americans haven’t even heard of such a thing, it may be more common than we know as many states do not even report the use of eminent domain. We do know that, in 2020, Texas reported 224 cases of eminent domain being used by the government or private entities. In 2019, Missouri’s Department of Transportation acquired 608 parcels of real property, but the state only reported 54 condemnation filings. 

The terms of eminent domain coming into play can be quite vague as the government can seize the property for public use which includes construction of roads & freeways, municipal buildings and schools, preservation of historic sites, railroad sites, locations for utilities, and renovation of blighted sites. 

Although there is light that can be done to prevent government seizure, involving an attorney can help property owners to negotiate a fair price for their property.

eminent domain infographic
Source: Dallas & Turner, PLLC