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Government Condemnation Actions for Public Constructions and Your Rights

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A government condemnation action is when the state or the federal government offers to pay the owner of property for the government to take over ownership for public construction purposes.  This right of the state and federal government stems from the U.S. Constitution and it is only valid where the government offers just compensation to the owner.  Some condemnation actions, however, are not lawful.  These actions are not made for the purpose of public development nor are owners of the property offered just compensation. Persons who are the subject of condemnation actions must know their rights before agreeing to an offer.

Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution

The Takings Clause is found in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (…or shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.). A taking is when the government seizes private property for public use. There are a few forms of takings to which a private party can be subjected. One form is the physical takings and the other form is called a constructive taking. A physical taking describes an action where the government literally takes physical ownership from the private party.  A constructive taking means that the government has restricted the owner’s rights so much that the government’s action amounts to or is functionally equivalent to a physical seizure.

Florida’s Process for Condemnation 

After the private party receives notice of intent to condemn, the first step of the condemnation process in Florida is the appraisal. The authority that is pursuing the condemnation will send an appraiser to the private property and determine the fair market value of the property.  The appraiser will analyze improvements done on the property, the age, and market forces to make this determination.  After the final value of the property is determined, the government will provide a written offer to the private party.  The private party has the opportunity to challenge the offer in an eminent domain lawsuit.  In this lawsuit, the private party will bring forth all grievances as to why the condemnation process is counter to the law.  If a dispute ensues, an alternative dispute process may be the first course ordered by the judge.  If that does not resolve the case, then the parties have the right to a trial by jury.

Know Your Rights

Private citizens must know their rights when it comes to public condemnation actions.  Any misstep could end in an uneven bargaining power. For one, the private party must demand just compensation.  Just compensation is comprised of the property’s fair market value. Other factors such as the unique features of the property should be considered with making the assessment. The private party should also know that they have a right to reject the amount the government is offering. Finally, the action for condemnation is not valid if the purpose of the condemnation is not for public use.

Fort Lauderdale Construction Law Attorney

It is important for private citizens to know their rights during condemnation actions. Attorney Brendan A. Sweeney is an experienced construction law attorney with years of experience advising on public condemnation issues.  He is also well-versed on Florida’s eminent domain laws. We will tailor your advice and representation to your unique needs. Contact us now for a consultation.

Resource:

law.cornell.edu/wex/takings

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