Eminent Domain in Florida
What is Eminent Domain?
Eminent domain or condemnation is the power of the government to buy private property and convert it for public use. Its origins are rooted in the Constitution. The condition as mandated in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” As it follows, the government cannot take your private property without providing you with reasonable compensation for its value. States also have the power to exercise eminent domain.
Florida’s Eminent Domain Law
Florida’s eminent domain law requires much transparency to the owner of the property. According to Florida statute, the condemning authority (the government entity that is exercising the power of eminent domain), must provide clear notice of the specific property being condemned. The notice must accompany an offer of compensation. The government cannot present a baseless offer as Florida requires the condemning authority to seek an appraisal of the property. The statute also requires that the condemning authority present the property owner with a copy of the appraisal report on which the offer is based. Further, the condemning authority must negotiate in good faith with the property owner. The government cannot show any indication of bad faith dealing to gain ownership of the property. In addition to the monetary aspect of condemnation actions, the condemning authority must provide the property owner with the public purpose for which the property will be used.
How to Attack a Condemnation Action
There are a few ways to attack an action for condemnation against your property. In Florida, the condemning authority can petition a circuit court on the issue of compensation. Here, the property owner may present his or her grievances as to why the offer does not amount to just compensation or the fair market value of the property. Other ways to attack an action for condemnation is to attack the standard by which the government must meet for such a transaction to occur. For example, the purpose for which the property is used may become a point of contention. The standard is “public purpose.” If the purpose for which the property is being condemned does not meet Florida’s definition of “public purpose,” then the transaction is not lawful. Therefore, if the State of Florida needs to build a publicly accessible road through your beach home, then it is pretty evident that the purpose is legitimate. However, if the property is being condemned for a private developer to build a privately-owned shopping center, then the purpose of the condemnation becomes problematic. A property owner can also attack the appraisal processing or the good faith (or lack thereof) of the condemnation offer.
Is Your Property Under Condemnation?
Has the government offered you a sum of money to take your property? Attorney Brendan A. Sweeney is an experienced construction law attorney who is prepared to assist you throughout each step of your case. When property owners receive offers of condemnation they have the right to know that they are getting the compensation rightfully due to them. Contact us now for a consultation.