When the government tells you that it intends to take some or all of your property for a public project, you may feel like you have little say in the matter. While the government has the right to take the property, it must provide you with full compensation for the taking. However, what you consider fair compensation, and what the government considers fair may be far apart.
In a typical real estate transaction, you would negotiate a price as a buyer or seller. A taking through eminent domain is far from typical. The good news is there is still some room to negotiate to help you get the most out of a situation that you didn’t ask for.
Early involvement is crucial
The government is not going to come in overnight and take your land. It’s required by law to provide you with notice that it intends to acquire your land through eminent domain. It’s important to keep in mind that when you receive this notice, the process for taking your land is already underway. It’s likely the government has already done its research and probably has a settlement figure in mind. The government will be stubborn and probably won’t deviate much, if at all, from this initial figure.
That’s why it’s important to get involved in this process as soon as you can. If you learn that the government is talking about plans for a highway expansion or establishing a public easement likely to impact your land, seek legal counsel before the eminent domain process begins. Doing so will help even the playing field if the government decides to go through with its plans. It’s possible that you can reach an agreement before the project ever begins. This can provide you with the time and compensation you need to figure out your next steps, rather than scrambling at the last minute.
Compensation shouldn’t be your sole focus
You may only be worried about getting a fair purchase price for your property and little else. However, there are other aspects of this transaction that may be up for negotiation. If the project isn’t scheduled to begin until years down the line, you can negotiate your right to use the land until things get underway.
If the government intends to take only a part of your property, you may be able to negotiate the design of the project to help preserve the appearance of your property.
There’s no doubt that eminent domain law works in favor of the government. However, that doesn’t mean you are left without options. A skilled legal professional can help advocate for your valuable interests.