Are You “Condemned” to Accept the Government’s Offer? A Real Estate Attorney Helps Sort through Washington’s Laws
America is founded upon the sanctity of property rights. In general, a government entity cannot force a property owner to give up his or her interest in that property. There is one prominent exception, of course: Eminent domain. Under special, somewhat limited circumstances, the government (federal, state, local, sometimes even a public utility) can “take” your land, or an interest in it for the “public good,” but in doing so, it must pay just compensation.
Can you stop the government from taking your property? If you can’t stop the proceeding, are you “condemned” to take what the government offers you?
Can Eminent Domain Be Stopped?
In most situations, it is exceedingly difficult to call a halt to an eminent domain proceeding. It can usually be stopped only if the proposed taking does not meet the statutory requirements for “public purpose” or “public necessity.”
Even If Government Can Take the Property, It Cannot Determine Compensation Alone
Many Washington landowners misunderstand the law when it comes to valuation of the government’s taking. The landowner does not have to accept the offer provided by the government’s agent. In many cases, the offer is just too small. Recognize that the law requires that compensation for the taking be paid according to the fair value of the property at the time of the taking, determined by the highest and best uses for your property. The price is not based upon the sort of use you currently are making of the property. It must be based on the best use possible.
What to Do if You Receive a “Low Ball” Offer?
Recognize initially that those who represent the government’s interest have a particular point of view. They generally want to pay as little as possible for the property. The offer you receive may, therefore, be quite low. If so, don’t just get angry; seek reasonable compensation. In many respects, the process is similar to that which would be used in any purchase and sale arrangement. The difference, of course, is that you really don’t want to sell. Push for an adequate payment. You may even need to litigate the matter.
Under Some Circumstances, Property Owner Can Recover Attorney’s Fees
You’ve heard that attorneys can be expensive. If you have already received a full and fair offer, that may be the case. But, if you have received an inadequate offer, if the government is offering you only a fraction of what your property is worth, you may need to retain an experienced eminent domain attorney to fight for your rights. Recognize that in some instances, a court can order the government or other condemning authority to pay the property owner’s reasonable attorney’s fees.
Hiring a Washington State Eminent Domain Attorney
Has the government or some other condemning authority notified you that it seeks to take your property through eminent domain? The attorneys at Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S. have years of combined experience handling a full range of real estate law, including condemnations and eminent domain proceedings. Our depth of knowledge allows us to provide our clients with superior representation. We work collaboratively – sharing strategies, ideas, and experience. Our team of attorneys and staff is big enough to handle your matter, yet we are small enough to provide you with the most personal legal service possible. We pride ourselves on designing the simplest, most effective solution for your legal issue. For assistance with any sort of real estate issue, contact us on the web, or call our office at 253-272-2997.