Written by attorney B. Joan Davis

Eminent Domain and Condemnation: 5 Essential Steps to Protect Your Commercial Property

There is nothing simple or painless when the Department of Transportation (DOT) or a municipality needs your land or building for a road widening project or to construct a new road. Whether you are a shopping center owner, national retailer, bank, restaurant, or small business owner, there are some basic steps you can take to protect your business and commercial property interests.

“Eminent domain” is the government’s legal right to take your private property for public use. The process begins when you receive a notice from the taking authority (usually a state or local government) indicating that it intends to acquire some or all of your property for a public project. The government or its agent must submit a monetary offer to purchase the property it needs. If you do not accept the initial offer, the government can proceed with a “condemnation lawsuit”, which is a lawsuit to seize your property. You may negotiate a settlement of the lawsuit or demand a jury trial to determine your “just compensation.” What essential steps should you take when this happens to you?

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