When someone inherits or purchases real property, they expect to own it for life unless they choose to sell it. Many people who invest in real estate want to hold onto it for years to maximize their returns. Others may simply purchase land with a home they wish to live in until they die.
Generally speaking, individuals don’t have to worry about the loss of such a significant asset because they have title records affirming their ownership interest. However, there are rare circumstances in which the state can actually force someone to give up their home or land against their wishes.
Understanding eminent domain
Specifically, eminent domain is the authority allowed by the government to take a person’s private property and use it for “public use.” In exchange, the government must provide the owner just compensation.
However, there are two important rules involving eminent domain New Yorkers should be aware of.
Limits of eminent domain
It would be very easy for government officials to give in to corruption and abuse their eminent domain authority by allowing private companies to sway the sale for profitable public projects.
So eminent domain proceedings in New York are possible only when the taking of the property will be for public purposes. One example involves taking property to expand a highway or public roadway. Taking private property to build a big box retail store would not be.
Owners should receive a property’s fair market value
Those not given a chance to decline selling their property can at least count on receiving an appropriate amount for it in the forced sale that results. People have a right to expect the fair market value of their property based on nearby comparable properties.
Special factors, like major improvements to or investments in the property, might mean that the amount offered is unreasonably low. Some homeowners will need to go to court to seek a more appropriate price for their home during condemnation proceedings related to an eminent domain claim.
Understanding how New York handles eminent domain claims can benefit those worried about a possible government takeover. Speaking with an experienced legal professional can also be beneficial and provide much-needed clarity.