Eminent Domain: Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

faq questions eminent domain If you’re a property owner in Philadelphia, you’ve probably heard conversations on “eminent domain” and “condemnation” — and how it’s being used to take private properties.

It’s a topic that’s getting a lot of attention (and rightfully so) — but because there is so much information available, property owners have a difficult time separating fact from fiction.

Below you’ll find answers to a few questions you may have:

  • What is eminent domain and condemnation?
  • Can I stop the government from taking my property?
  • How are communities selected for eminent domain projects?
  • Am I entitled to compensation for my real estate?
  • Can I refuse the city’s offer to purchase my home?
  • Can I hire my own appraiser to assess my property?
  • I received an eminent domain notice. What should I do?

What is eminent domain and condemnation?

Eminent domain laws give the government and public agencies power to take private properties under certain circumstances – and in exchange for just compensation.

Condemnation is the legal process used to carry out the taking.

Can I stop the government from taking my property?

You can challenge the government’s “right to take” your land, home land or business property but it may be an uphill battle.

Before moving forward with eminent domain plans, the condemning agency must prove that the project is needed for public purpose.

If challenged by you, it must also show that the taking of your property is necessary to fulfill said purpose. If the agency is unable to prove necessity, you have a better chance of saving your property from condemnation.

How are communities selected for eminent domain projects?

Eminent domain projects often target blighted communities that are littered with abandoned homes, vacant lots, high crime and poverty rates.

Once a community in need is identified, the condemning agency creates a plan to revitalize the area. Included in the plan is a list of addresses — homes, businesses and vacant lots — that must be acquired, whole or in part.

The agency then presents its plan to the community. This is usually done in a public forum where residents are given an opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns.

If the project proceeds forward after the forum and you want to challenge the taking, contact our law firm immediately. We do not recommend you fight this battle alone.

Am I entitled to compensation for my real estate?

Yes. Whether you’re unable to prevent the taking of your property or you wish to surrender it voluntarily, you are entitled to compensation. But you may have to fight to get the fair market value you deserve.

Condemning agencies are known to extend low-ball offers to property owners. It will acquire your home or business for a fraction of its true value if you allow it. Don’t!

Hire Attorney Glenn Brown to negotiate on your behalf. We will fight to secure a fair price for your property, and any other relief you’re entitled to (i.e. relocation expenses, delayed payment penalties, etc.)

Can I refuse the city’s offer to purchase my home?

Yes. If you feel the amount proposed does not represent the true value of your home, you can reject the offer and counter with a more reasonable price.

We highly recommend that you consult an experienced eminent domain lawyer before you communicate or attempt to negotiate with the condemning agency or appraisers.

Can I hire my own appraiser to assess my property?

Yes. You can hire an independent appraiser to review and assess the value of your property.

The condemning agency hires an appraisal firm of its choosing and uses its evaluation to determine what to offer you. It would be wise to do the same before you accept or reject anything.

I received an eminent domain notice. What should I do?

Do NOT ignore the notice. Eminent domain plans can move forward quickly — from planning to seizing deeds in a matter of months.

Take action now to protect your rights as a property owner.

Schedule a Free Consultation

We understand this page may not answer every question you have or address all of your concerns. Attorney Glenn Brown is offering free consultations to anyone involved in eminent domain matters. Request your private one-on-one today. Use this online form or call us at (610) 734-0750 to get started.

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