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Why Would the Government Utilize Eminent Domain to Obtain Vacant Land?

By on Jan 5, 2015 in Eminent Domain Case |

The whole idea of eminent domain is not a new topic to the vast majority of residents of the state of Florida and the rest of the country.  Through eminent domain, the government has the ability to, and often does, obtain private property for public use.  The government will do this for a variety of reasons as they justify the obtaining of the property.  It could be for them to build a new road, a new school, a new courthouse, or something entirely different.  All they need to do is to prove that it is for the better of the public to use the power.

Why does the government utilize eminent domain so much, though?  What is it about eminent domain that makes it appealing as an option for the government?  There are many reasons, but they typically revolve around a few main themes.  The first is that it is easier than negotiating with someone that doesn’t want to sell and the second is something known as fair market value.  Let’s dig a bit deeper into each.

Buying Property from an Unwilling Seller

No one can just walk up to a house that they like and tell the owner that they are buying it from them.  There needs to be a intent to sell on the part of the owner in order for there to be any chance of an agreement on which to sell that piece of property.  The reality is that not everyone who owns a home wants to sell it.  The government knows this, which is exactly why they will rely on eminent domain to basically force your hand.  Whether or not you ever had an intention on selling your property, they have the ability to obtain it.  This goes beyond homes and land and can also go into intellectual property, automobiles, virtually any property, whether it be tangible or intangible.

What eminent domain does is it takes that requirement of intent to sell out of the equation.  With the law the way that it is, the government can pay you fair market value, which we will get to in a minute, and obtain your property.  This is no regardless of whether or not you ever had any intention on selling your home, land, office building, or whatever it is.  All the government has to do to make eminent domain be in-force is prove that the property is needed for public use.

Introducing Fair Market Value

The other main reason why the government relies so heavily on eminent domain is due to the fact that only fair market value needs to be paid for property.  You may see your home as something that is extremely valuable, far above what the market would pay for it.  Even though you may think this when it comes to eminent domain none of this really matters.  The government only has to pay you fair market value in order to obtain your property and nothing more.

Say the government was to approach you and eminent domain did not exist.  They wanted to buy your land from you to build a new school.  You may consider it, but only at a price that is going to really benefit you for going out of your way and moving your whole family.  This would be above and beyond what you would get if you were to go to the market and sell it through a realtor.  Eminent domain takes this out of the equation and limits what you can get for compensation for your property.  The government can essentially get off in a less expensive way thanks to eminent domain.

The limits around eminent domain and what the government can seize through it are virtually endless.  Tangible and intangible property is both up for grabs.  All that the property needs to have is some form of ownership component to it and it is fair game in the eyes of the government.  The government will use eminent domain to avoid a power struggle over your property and get away with obtaining it for only fair market value.  Having a quality eminent domain attorney by your side can make a big difference to ensure that you get a fair shake should the government decide to go after any of the property that you may own.