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The difference between eminent domain and inverse condemnation

Eminent domain and inverse condemnation are the two ways that government can acquire or “take” private property. There are distinct differences between the two. It’s important for property owners to understand the differences to ensure that they receive proper compensation when the government uses their land.

Eminent domain and just compensation

Eminent domain, or condemnation, gives government agencies at the federal, state, or local levels the power to compel the sale of private property for a public use project. Sometimes, the power of eminent domain is granted to private companies. This often occurs when utility companies or railroads undertake a project that will provide some benefit to the public.

If a government or private corporation takes property through the use of eminent domain, it’s required to provide the landowner with “just compensation” for the taking. Of course, what the landowner considers to be just compensation rarely aligns with the government’s notion of just compensation. This is where it’s helpful to have legal counsel on your side who can effectively advocate for your interests.

Inverse condemnation without just compensation from the government

An inverse condemnation occurs when there’s a taking of property without providing just compensation to the landowner. This often occurs when the taking involves an action that isn’t quite permanent. For example, diverting a water source which may result in occasional flooding of the land. You can also bring an inverse condemnation claim when the government fails to follow proper eminent domain procedures.

Unlike an eminent domain case, it’s incumbent on the landowner to file an inverse condemnation claim. This is often the only way to recover compensation if a government entity burdens your property. You should always discuss your options with a skilled legal professional.


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