When a Maryland resident purchases a property, either for personal or business use, they may not be aware that the government or other authorized entity can take the property for public use. The legal principle behind this is called eminent domain and it’s an important topic for property owners to understand.
Eminent domain is also sometimes called condemnation and is used to promote public welfare. When the government takes the property for public use, it must provide fair compensation to the property owner. Usually, this means that the property owner is entitled to the fair market value of the property.
There must also be a public purpose for the property condemnation. This might include building a school, road, utility, or other purpose that benefits society.
Also, eminent domain has been used to preserve land for public parks and to protect environmentally sensitive areas.
Eminent domain disputes often arise when the property owner does not believe he or she is being properly compensated for the property taken. The property owner may also dispute that the property is being taken for a public purpose or that there are reasonable alternatives the government could use.
Sometimes, the government or entity will hold public hearings before the property is taken to hear the property owner’s concern. While these forums are helpful, the property owner may also choose to pursue legal action.
If a property owner is presented with a claim for eminent domain, he or she should be aware that there are often short deadlines to respond.