- Protecting the Rights of Landowners Throughout Pierce County
Protecting the Rights of Landowners Throughout Pierce County
When you purchase land, you likely assume that you will rightfully possess that land until you sell it of your own accord. However, the government actually has the right take your land at any time for the benefit of the public. This right is known interchangeably as “eminent domain,” or “condemnation.”
Anyone can have their land condemned by the government if the government thinks it needs your property for a public use. It is critical that landowners who are facing possible condemnation have qualified legal representation from the very beginning of the process to protect their constitutional rights.
Eminent domain is a very specific area of law with unique issues and questions in every case. The team at the Brink Law Firm understands your rights under eminent domain laws and will fight to protect them at every turn. If you have received notice of a possible condemnation action involving your residential or commercial property, do not delay in contacting attorneys Terry and Clinton Brink today.
Eminent Domain Powers
The Fifth Amendment to the United States ends by stating that private property shall not “be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This has long been interpreted to mean that the government can be take individual property if the requirements of “public use” and “just compensation” are met. The Washington State Constitution has a similar provision, allowing for the taking of private lands under specific circumstances. As such, local, state, and federal government agencies regularly take private property needed for certain projects—even if landowners don’t wish to sell their land at that time.
“Public use” can refer to any number of projects or developments that are deemed to benefit the public in that community. This can include parks, schools, highway construction or expansion, government buildings, utility projects, and more. In addition, the law has been interpreted to allow condemnation to eliminate blight or to construct private commercial developments. If a taking does not suit a public purpose, it is unlawful and you can challenge it.
Too many property owners get taken advantage of by the government during condemnation proceedings. The government will often lowball the owner, offering an amount far below fair market value for the condemned property. Many property owners agree to give up their land and accept this first offer without first speaking to an experienced attorney. They think that they are powerless to resist merely because the government has a constitutional right to take their property. That simply isn’t true.
The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution entitles you to just compensation. While it can be difficult or impossible to avoid condemnation altogether, you should always fight to receive the amount of money you deserve when a condemning agency decides to take your property. The Brink Law Firm regularly helps property owners obtain the fairest and most comprehensive compensation possible. With the right legal representation, you can negotiate the payment you receive and fight to ensure you obtain full and just compensation for the land you will lose. If you are unable to negotiate an adequate offer, you can take the matter to court.
Our attorneys can help with the following and more when it comes to seeking just compensation in your eminent domain case:
- Reviewing any offers of payment received from a condemning agency to determine if they are adequate
- Proving the “Highest and Best Use” of any affected property
- Seeking compensation for relocation expenses when applicable
- Obtaining full payment for your lost property rights
- Obtaining full payment for any diminution of value in any remaining property
Seeking compensation for any other relevant losses
We believe that every property owner deserves complete payment of all damages incurred due to eminent domain actions, and we are committed to obtaining this just compensation for our clients.
Types of Condemnation Actions
Not every condemnation case is the same. Each should be evaluated based on the scope of condemnation that is occurring and how it affects you. The following are types of condemnation cases we regularly handle.
An easement is not a taking of your land, but is instead obtaining permission to possess and use part of your land. This is common with utility projects or pipelines that build under your land. In such cases, the companies gain the right to come onto your property to inspect, repair, and maintain the equipment. While granting an easement may not sound that bad, it can significantly affect the value of your land. Because of this, you deserve to be properly compensated. For more information, read our article on easements.
The government can only take the portion of your property that is necessary for a given project that is in the public interest. Often, this results in a taking of only part of your land, while you get to keep the rest. However, partial takings still reduce the amount of land you own, and you should be paid the full value of even the slightest amount of land lost, as well as any loss in the value of the remainder of your land.
If your property is in the direct path of a new highway or on the site of a new school, you may lose your entire property. In such cases, you will likely need to be compensated for relocation expenses as well as the full and fair value of your property.
In some cases, the government will take over, begin using, or damage your land without paying you anything. In this situation, landowners must take legal action and sue the government for the just compensation required under the law. This is referred to as inverse condemnation and our firm can assist you with this type of claim.
Contact a Knowledgeable Eminent Domain Law Firm for Help as Soon as Possible
At the Brink Law Firm, we fight to ensure that property owners throughout the south sound area including Pierce County, King County, Thurston County and Kitsap County affected by eminent domain are justly compensated by the government. We have extensive experience handling all types of real estate law matters, so please do not hesitate to set up a consultation for more information. Call us at 253.620.6666 or contact us online today.