If the federal, state or local government, or quasi-governmental groups like power companies, hospitals or even stadium authorities, believe that they need your property for a public use, you can find yourself in a condemnation proceeding. This is because the government and certain quasi-governmental entities have the power to take private property for public purposes. A public purpose can be any number of things. Some examples are: building or extending roads, building schools or courthouses, parking lots, or other public projects.
When condemnation occurs, in Georgia you are entitled to “just and adequate compensation” for your property.
But what, exactly, constitutes “just and adequate compensation” for your property?
The Fight Over Just and Adequate Compensation and Public Use
Determining what is “just and adequate compensation” in any eminent domain case is where the “rubber meets the road.” What is just compensation for a particular piece of property can be subjective. In negotiating “just compensation” for a piece of property, the government may offer less than what the property is worth, or less than what it would cost to rebuild the same house on another piece of property.
Because determining what is “just and adequate compensation” is difficult to do, and because the property owner and the government entity rarely see eye to eye on this question, many eminent domain cases end up in litigation.
While “just compensation” is the main area of contention in an eminent domain case, it is not the only issue hotly debated in a condemnation case. The other major issue litigated in these cases is whether or not the taking is for “public use.” In 2006, Georgia amended its Constitution and enacted Title 22 of the Georgia Code known as “The Landowner’s Bill of Rights” in order to protect property owners from takings for redevelopment purposes.
Evidence in Condemnation Proceedings
As you might suspect, litigating a condemnation case is not a simple or easy thing to do. One of the critical aspects of these types of cases concerns the evidence required as well as the burden of proof and production at trial.
The evidence that must be produced in these types of cases includes evidence of a taking, the property’s value and public use. For the most part, the condemnor (i.e., the government or quasi-government entity) bears the burden of proof on the issues of just and adequate compensation and public use. However, if the property owner contends that fair market value does not represent his actual loss or if he is claiming business damage, the burden shifts to him to prove that the property is unique.
There is a lot more to evidence in eminent domain proceedings. Far more than we can cover here. Suffice it to say, however, that eminent domain proceedings are require careful handling to ensure that a property owner’s rights are protected.
Experienced. Dedicated. Tenacious. At the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, we put our real estate experience to work for you. We have offices in Cumming and we serve Atlanta and multiple counties, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. To schedule your free phone consultation, call us at: 770-888-7707. Or contact us here.