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What does it mean when the government condemns property?

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2023 | Real Estate

If you own property, you likely expect that you will have control of what happens to it. You may assume that you will maintain ownership and decision-making authority over the property, but this is not always the case. There are times when the government could initiate certain actions that allows it to take privately owned property. When the government condemns a property, it essentially removes a person’s ownership rights and allows others to buy the property or use it for public benefit. 

Condemnation can happen through a few different processes, including eminent domain. It is in your interests to have a full understanding of your property rights and what you can do to ensure that the government does not violate your rights or fail to provide fair compensation for property required for public use. It may also be helpful to remember that you have the right to pursue the most beneficial outcome for your individual situation. 

Government functions that can lead to property loss 

The government cannot simply decide to take your property without a valid reason. If some or all your privately owned land is necessary, such as for the installation of power lines or cell towers, expansion of roads or building a new school, you must meet certain requirements. There must be a clear and valid reason to take that step, and in cases of eminent domain, the government must offer the property owner compensation for the property that is reflective of its true value. 

However, eminent domain is not the only government function that could result in a loss of privately owned property. The government may decide to condemn property if the owner has allowed it to fall into a dilapidated state that poses a risk to others, or it is out of character with the surrounding properties. Unpaid property tax liens could also lead to the government deciding to move forward with condemnation. 

What are your rights as a property owner? 

As a property owner, it is within your rights to have a strong understanding of how you can respond to an eminent domain effort or an effort to condemn your property. If you receive notice, you will benefit from taking quick action regarding the most appropriate way to respond. You may be able to contest the condemnation efforts, or you may be able to fight for fair compensation for the property you will lose.