Eminent domain vs. inverse condemnation

At first glance, there may not appear to be much of a difference between eminent domain and an inverse condemnation proceeding. After all, both involve some type of entity with eminent domain authority “taking” of privately-owned land. However, there are distinct differences between the two, and it is worth understanding what your rights are when the government or another entity encroaches on your land.

Eminent domain and the condemnation process

Eminent domain refers to the power of federal, state or local governments to acquire private property for a government project or public use. This power is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Another entity with eminent domain authority, such as a utility, gas or electric company, may also attempt to take private property for a public use project. However, the Constitution also requires these entities to provide the property owner with “just compensation” for the land.

The entity with eminent domain authority initiates the condemnation process, not the landowner. Most disputes arising from eminent domain concern whether the proffered compensation is just. It is important to discuss your concerns with a skilled legal professional.

Inverse condemnation proceedings

Sometimes, the government or another condemning entity may take land something away from a property owner without leaving a property owner without any form of compensation. The entity will claim that it never took anything from the landowner, thus eminent domain does not apply. These situations typically arise when there has been some type of interference with the landowner’s ability to use and enjoy the property. Some common examples which may trigger an inverse condemnation claim include:

  • Road construction
  • Pipeline installation
  • Power line installation

In this case, because the government or other condemning entity claims that there was no taking of the property, it is up to the landowner to file a claim for inverse condemnation. The property owner will be seeking just compensation for the impediment to using the property.

Asserting your rights

Remember that you have the constitutional right to receive adequate compensation in exchange for your land. You should explore your legal options to ensure that you receive the full value to which you are entitled.