Can I Lose my House to Eminent Domain?

Posted: May 28, 2019 10:28 am


“No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation” (Constitution of the United States, Fifth Article of Amendment). The legal definition of “public use” can be very broad. For example, the Pennsylvania Code allows public utility companies to use eminent domain and to delegate the taking to pipeline operators. That means that, under Commonwealth law, a private company can exercise an immense government power!

Anytime you are faced with a “taking” under eminent domain, you need an experienced lawyer, like James Vendetti, to protect your rights.


What is Eminent Domain?

Simply put, the government has the right to take private property for public uses. This is a legitimate government power. Otherwise, one person might delay or end the construction of a project that fills a community need. The key word, of course, is need, and that’s where it gets sticky; everybody’s definition differs — one person’s necessity is another’s luxury.

It’s a challenging situation. The condemnor — the entity that wants to take your property — will start by making a purchase offer. If the condemnee (owner) rejects the offer, they usually end up in court. It’s a legal situation few people ever face, and the principle reason you need a lawyer who’s also a licensed real estate agent and licensed title search agent — the reason you need James Vendetti.


The Practical Truth

Once a government decides it needs something, it’s all-but-certain they will take your property. Getting a court to tell the Commonwealth it can’t build a bridge or school is an astronomically long shot. Getting just compensation isn’t. Like any purchaser, the condemnor will low-ball the offer to less than they know the property is worth, so you can feel good about negotiating them up to where they knew the value was in the first place.

You, however, should get more than just the base value of the house. You hadn’t planned to lose your home — your little castle — with all its memories and sense of stability, not to mention the expenses and inconveniences of house hunting and moving. Those, too, should be compensated and, while you’re dealing with that, you also need to find a new place to live!

Simplify your life with a one-stop-shopping approach to dealing with an eminent domain taking. Contact James Vendetti and his team of real estate professionals. Let them help you negotiate the sale while they help you find and secure a new castle to call your own.