Frequently Asked Questions

What is eminent domain?

Eminent domain is the power of a governmental entity to take private property for public use. Eminent domain is exercised with an action called “condemnation”. Governments (also known as Condemning Authorities) can delegate such authority to private entities such as utility companies, railroads, etc., for right of way, easements and necessary facilities.

If I own my property, how can someone take it from me?

Eminent domain is the fundamental power of the sovereign to take private property for a public use without the owner’s consent. This power is implied from the superior dominion, the “eminent domain”, which the State holds over all the soil within its bounds and to which a private property right is subject. 

What is Condemnation?

Condemnation refers to the process by which the power of eminent domain is exercised. This process allows private property to be taken for the public good.

Who has the right to take my property?

Generally speaking, the government holds the power of eminent domain, meaning such power is held by the United States and the individual states. The power of eminent domain is held by counties, municipalities, utility companies, railroads, transportation authorities, community development districts, water management districts, airports and the mosquito control districts, just to name a few.

What type of interest in my property can the Condemning Authority take?

A determination of the public purpose concerns the quality and nature of the project itself. Public necessity focuses on identifying what property and how much property is needed for the project. A Condemning Authority must consider the nature and extent of the interest in the private property being taken, whether the Condemning Authority will take fee simple title to the property, or only an easement interest. This analysis may provide grounds for a property owner to challenge a taking of the property by condemnation, since the Condemning Authority is not allowed to take more property than it needs for the public project in question.