In the United States, federal, state and local governments have the power to seize private land or property for pubic use. This power, known as eminent domain, can seem unfair or unnecessary to private property owners, but it is permitted by our Constitution as long as the property owners receive just compensation. However, if there is ever a time when government bodies condemn land or property without adhering to the proper condemnation protocols, inverse condemnation can occur.
What Is Inverse Condemnation?
In order to understand inverse condemnation, one must first have a working understanding of condemnation. Whenever government entities exercise their power of eminent domain, the process that follows is known as condemnation. This process is employed to make way for parks, schools, municipal buildings, highways and other public utilities. Regardless of the condemned property’s intended use, the condemnor will initiate the condemnation process and offer fair or just compensation to the property owner. On the other hand, inverse condemnation occurs when a government body seizes or damages property without paying the property owner just compensation or filing a lawsuit in order to obtain the property. With inverse condemnation, the property owner is the one who initiates legal action, not a government body.
Inside Inverse Condemnation
When a property owner initiates an inverse condemnation proceeding, he or she contends that the condemnor has taken, restricted or even damaged the use of his or her property without just compensation. Under the Constitutions of the United States and Texas (and the Constitutions of many other states for that matter), property owners whose land has been condemned, restricted or damaged without just compensation can seek further restitution. Inverse compensation suits may arise due to a number of things. Reasons to initiate inverse condemnation proceedings can stem from when a public project:
- Impairs or obstructs access to private property.
- Impedes visibility to and from the property in question.
- Causes changes in adjacent property’s grade or quality.
- Calls for physical occupation of the property.
- Makes the property more vulnerable to acts of nature like floods, sinking or landslides.
Additionally, inverse condemnation matters are subject to time restrictions that can keep a property owner from receiving his or her just compensation. To ensure statues of limitations are observed and to successfully navigate the inverse condemnation process, property owners should seek the guidance of experienced condemnation attorneys.
Thinking of Initiating An Inverse Condemnation Proceeding?
If the government’s power of eminent domain has negatively affected your property and you have not received just compensation, you might consider initiating inverse condemnation action. Contact our condemnation attorneys today for legal advice and professional representation for these matters.