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What property is vulnerable to eminent domain?

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2022 | Eminent Domain

Eminent domain law allows the government to force you to sell your land. While the government must pay you a fair rate for the land, you have no option in whether you will agree to the sale.

Because this is such a serious situation, the law does outline when eminent domain can occur. According to Cornell Law School, the main rule is eminent domain is only applicable when the land will be for public use.

Public use defined

Initially, the idea of public use was rather strict. The government could only take your land if it would be something that would benefit the public. For example, if it was needed for building a road or creating a water plant. The government had to show it would be for a public project, benefiting everyone as a whole.

Court decision changes

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision in Kelo v. City of New London, Connecticut, which changed the definition of public use. In the past, use for private entities was not part of public use or eminent domain. Private companies could not compel anyone to sell for any reason.

When the Court made its decision in the Keto case, it changed that so public use now included private entities because the justices said the economic benefits from a private project could benefit the public. Thus, the ruling changed eminent domain, making landowners more vulnerable to eminent domain.

Eminent domain is a complex topic. Facing the possibility that the state could take your land can be upsetting. Unfortunately, as long as the government can prove there is any type of public benefit associated with the proposed project, the chances are good, you will lose your land to eminent domain.