Becoming a homeowner is a huge badge of honor for many, one which takes years if not decades of hard work for people to achieve. It is no wonder then that a threat of eminent domain not only threatens to upend a homeowner’s entire life but comes with a lot of emotional baggage and stress. To think that your home will be taken from you for reasons completely beyond your control is unthinkable. Basically, a clause in the Fifth Amendment limits the government’s right to take over public property by offering the property owner a sum of money – compensation in return for them simply leaving the space. Say, the local government in New Jersey decides it needs to build a manufacturing plant governmental office on the land in which your home resides; this is where the threat of eminent domain comes in.
If you have recently suffered as a result of this, then the following will help shed some light on what you need to do.
Find an Attorney
The first rule of thumb in a situation like this is to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney practicing in your area. He or she should be well-versed in the city’s local jurisdictions, zoning laws, and even understand the political nuances at play. He or she can share with you from the get-go an overview of what needs to be done, and whether you have a shot at contesting the eminent domain order. The reason why you’d need an attorney is, basically, we are no longer talking about some funny business having to do with the buying and selling of real estate. Contesting a right of eminent domain will result in a lawsuit, so at least taking the time to figure out what to do with a lawyer should be the first mode of operation.
Second – And Third – Opinions
Say that you are becoming more and more attuned to the fact that you don’t want to go into a lengthy legal battle over your property with the local government. The next step is to ask a lawyer what just compensation can and should look like. In fact, it is recommended that you check in with NJ eminent domain lawyers not only once but at least two or three times to get opinions on how much money you are due. If you are about to let go of the home or property that you worked hard to acquire, then you need to do your due diligence in confirming how much money would entail fair compensation for you and your family.
Make a Decision
The last step in your decision-making process is to basically evaluate the pros and cons of accepting the claim of eminent domain, contesting the financial offer attached, or fight the government. In each case, you will need to work hard to understand all your options and make sure that you are prepared for the difficulties each one entails. Perhaps none of these options are easy or ideal, but by taking the time to research, you will find the best workable solution for you.
While eminent domain threats can often feel like a trying example of government overreach, there are legitimate reasons as to why it has been built into the constitution. Whether you decide to accept the decision or fight in court, make sure that your attorney takes the time to explain every scenario to you in detail.