Q&A about Eminent Domain
(Click each question to expand answers)
Do I forfeit my rights by not accepting the Government’s offer?
No. You may negotiate and you are entitled to a trial in which twelve (12) jurors will determine the amount of full compensation for your property and all damages, including business damages, if any.
Do I have to pay for an attorney and experts?
Florida Statutes 73.092 provides that the Petitioner (Government) shall pay attorneys fees.
Florida Statutes 73.091 provides that reasonable costs incurred in the defense of the proceedings in the circuit court including but not limited to reasonable appraisal fees and, when business damages are compensable, a reasonable accountants fee, are to be assessed by the court.
How soon can I get my money?
If you negotiate a settlement, you may receive your compensation in as little as 30 days from the settlement. If you have a mortgage or other liens this may delay the payment. If the Government files suit, it is required to deposit a good faith estimate of full compensation for your real property it acquires into the Court Registry within twenty (20) days of the Order of Taking Hearing. We ask the court for permission to withdraw this deposit and send it to you as soon as possible. You may use this money without waiving your rights to continue to challenge the Government’s valuation.
Should your case go to jury trial and a final judgment is entered in your favor, the Government is required to deposit all compensation and damages awarded to you into the Court Registry within thirty (30) days.
What is Condemnation?
The process whereby the State or one of its subdivisions (County or City) takes private land for a public purpose.
Am I entitled to Compensation?
Yes. The property owner must be fully compensated for this taking. However, the Government’s valuation and the property owner’s valuation typically are very different.
Can I prevent the proposed taking?
Sometimes takings are prevented and/or postponed by filing an answer and objecting to the necessity of the taking. Once the proper objections are made in your Answer, the Government is required to meet its burden to show that the property is reasonably necessary for the public use for which it is being acquired. If the Government cannot meet this burden it is likely that the property owner will prevail in preventing the taking.
Do I need an attorney?
Yes. The Government will have an attorney, an appraiser and other experts working for it. It is a personal decision whether you feel comfortable negotiating with the Government on your own; however, it is often beneficial to at least consult with an attorney familiar with the condemnation process. Impacts to some properties require review. Failure to address these issues before settlement can be costly.
Do I have to accept the Government’s offer?
No. The Government’s offer is required to be based upon a good faith estimate supported by an appraisal of the property being taken and damages, if any. An appraisal of property is an opinion of value.