Eminent Domain in Florida
Can the State of Florida take your property? Yes! You may be shocked to learn that the government may have the right to take your property without your consent. Unfortunately, you will probably not be able to stop the government acquiring your land. However, there are steps you can take to protect your rights during an eminent domain process. Our Daytona eminent domain attorney explains the process and the steps you should take to protect yourself if you are notified of a Florida eminent domain proceeding.
If you receive a notice that the government is seizing your property under Florida’s eminent domain laws, call (888) 316-2131 immediately to speak with a Florida real estate lawyer.
What is Eminent Domain?
Eminent domain is the legal process whereby a government entity can seize privately owned property for government use. The process is also referredto as a condemnation. However, the government cannot simply seize your property at whim. The U.S. Constitution mandates in the Fifth Amendment that if the government seizes private property for public use, it must do so by providing just compensation to the property owner. Hence, the process of eminent domain was born. The government can take your property, but it must compensate you for your property.
How Does the Eminent Domain Process Work in Florida?
There is a very specific process that the government must follow if it desires to take private property for public use. Below is a brief explanation of some of those steps:
1. Announcement of a Government Project and the Affected Properties — A government agency announces that it is beginning a specific project, such as constructing a building, widening roads, building a city park, etc., and the project will affect various pieces of private property. In most cases, a written notice is released, followed by public hearings to discuss the project.
2. Inspection and Valuation — A government agency must inspect the property to determine the value of the property. The agency must also determine if taking the property from the owner will cause damage to any property that will remain private property. In most cases, the agency retains an appraiser to perform a professional appraisal for the property.
3. An Offer is Made for the Property — After the government agency reviews the appraisal, it will make a formal, written offer to the property owner as compensation for the property. The government is not telling the owner he or she has a choice to turn over the property, it is simply offering to compensate the owner based on a fair value for the property.
If the owner has not hired a Florida eminent domain attorney before now, the owner needs to do so immediately.The eminent domain laws in Florida have numerous statutes that contain several deadlines and requirements. It is easy for a property owner to become overwhelmed by the process and lose his or her property for a value that is far below the fair market value of the property. It is best to retain a Daytona eminent domain attorney as soon as you believe your property may be subject to a government condemnation process.
However, if you have not retained an attorney by the time you receive the offer, you must do so immediately to avoid missing short deadlines that could result in the offer being automatically accepted without opposition.
4. Evaluating the Government’s Offer — Your attorney will assist you in evaluating the agency’s offer andan appraisalfor your property. If the offer is fair, you may want to accept the offer. However, if you do not accept the offer or your attorney finds errors or mistakes in the offer or valuation, your attorney will discuss your options for proceeding with an objection to the condemnation.
5. Negotiation for Fair Compensation — Before the government can begin an eminent domain proceeding to seize private property, it must engage in good faith negotiations with the property owner to resolve an objection. If you have not received a copy of the government’s appraisal, you can request a written copy of the appraisal with the written offer from the agency.
6. Selecting an Appraiser — One of the crucial steps in fighting an eminent domain proceeding is selecting an appraiser. An experienced eminent domain attorney in Daytona can help you choose an appraiser who understands the condemnation process and what is required for an eminent domain appraisal.
7. Settlement and Transfer — If the property owner and government agency can agree to fair compensation based on the appraisals, the parties sign the agreement and title to the property is transferred to the government. At this time, the owner has no further recourse.
8. Government Files Condemnation Proceedings
If the owner and the government agency cannot agree to an amount of fair compensation, the owner declines the offer and the government begins a condemnation proceeding.
9. Preparing for Trial
The process of preparing for a condemnation trial is a complex process with many different steps and requirements. The matter can be settled at various times before the trial. You do not want to enter this phase of the eminent domain process without a Florida real estate attorney who has significant experience handling eminent domain cases.
Call a Daytona Real Estate Attorney Now!
If you suspect the government may be looking at your property, call our office now! You want a strong advocate on your side as soon as possible to guide you and protect your rights through the eminent domain process in Florida.