What happens when you receive a letter from the government informing you that it intends to take an easement through your property via eminent domain?
Eminent domain is a controversial legal maneuver, but it generally allows the government to take private property whenever it is necessary for the public’s benefit. Owners who are deprived of their property rights do have to be compensated, but that doesn’t really take the sting out of being told that you have no choice but to surrender access to your land.
An attorney can help you with an eminent domain problem in several different ways. Below are some of the things an attorney can do in these situations.
Review the proposed easement for necessity
There are times it’s appropriate to oppose an easement that’s being taken by eminent domain. For example, you might challenge the necessity of an easement designed to allow utility trucks to regularly access your property by showing that the gas line they need to reach can easily be accessed from another direction without going through private property. While going through your property might be convenient, that convenience shouldn’t trump your property rights.
Offer suggestions that will maintain your rights
Another way that an attorney can help you with this issue is by looking at the terms of the proposed easement to make certain that your future rights are protected in the best way possible.
For example, if the county wants to access your rural property to maintain some electrical lines, an attorney can help you negotiate with the government for an agreement that protects your livestock and fences and even gives you a short advance notice for non-emergencies.
Help you obtain a fair amount of compensation
The government usually offers compensation for the property it takes based on an appraisal and market value. The appraisal it uses is supposed to be independent, but it never hurts to get your own appraisal to keep things fair.
If there’s a significant discrepancy between the two appraisals, an attorney can plead your case for more compensation.
Whether you choose to fight eminent domain or accept it, it’s important to do what you can to protect your rights and preserve your interests.