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Can the government force me to sell my home?

| Jun 23, 2021 | Real Estate Law |

You are reading the paper and notice plans for a new development in your town. You read on and realize the proposals have it running right through your front door.

Thanks to eminent domain laws, many homeowners find themselves in situations like yours. The authorities give the go-ahead to new infrastructure, leaving those in its path wondering what they should do next.

How does the eminent domain law work?

It is next to impossible to build a road or rail track without crossing land that someone claims to own. To get around the issue of one person refusing to sell and holding up the whole project, the government introduced the eminent domain law. If the government wants to buy your land for public use, there is little you can do to stop them. In return, they must pay you “just compensation.”

People have interpreted “public use” in different ways, often taking it to mean in the public interest. Some cities decided it allowed them to force demolition to raise the standard of the area.

In a 2005 case, the Supreme Court ruled that economic development or increased revenue from taxes gave justified cause for the compulsory purchase of private property. That opened the door for private developers to exploit the law to get pieces of land they had their eyes on for a long time.

Blocking someone from using the eminent domain law to buy you out is a difficult process. Even things such as hotel chains or shopping malls tend to get the permission they want. What you can do, is seek legal help to fight for a fair price for your property the government is forcing you to sell.