What Does "Just Compensation" Mean in a Condemnation Action?

If you have been subject to a condemnation proceeding on your real property, you have probably already been served with a notice of just compensation. Just compensation is the first step to the local or state government condemning your property through the eminent domain process. It is the amount of money the local or state government has decided to offer you in return for your property, and it is ideally meant to be sufficient for your replacement.

The Determination of Just Compensation in Condemnation Proceedings

Just compensation is determined by calculating the actual amount the house or other property would be likely to bring at sale  for its use or potential use on the open market if advertised and marketed for a reasonable period of time. 

For example, if a property cost $200,000, but was only likely to bring $150,000, based on the potential uses (residential vs. commercial) after a ninety day period, the just compensation amount initally determined and offered would likely be $150,000.

Just compensation is a constitutional right, since the government cannot simply take your property without providing you with fair compensation for it. However, while you will be compensated for the taking of your home, if the government has decided to seize it through eminent domain, you will usually have to take the money and accept the sale even if you would prefer not to sell. 

Getting Help

If you are involved in a condemnation action and you have received an offer of just compensation that you do not believe is fair or adequate, you should consult an attorney who can help you take the right steps to protect your Constitutional rights as protected by the Fifth Amendment.