Can You Challenge Eminent Domain?

The power of domain is possessed by federal and state government agencies. However, the power is somewhat limited if they intend to take private property for public use. The 14th and fifth amendments of the United States Constitution limit eminent power domain. Individual state laws and constitutions also can limit eminent domain.

Property owners may choose to challenge eminent domain if the government is trying to use their property. These challenges may be taken on by an eminent domain attorney who can determine a potential defense. The condemnation may be challenged outright with certain defenses. In other cases, for taking your property, a lawyer can see to it that you absolutely receive just and fair compensation.

To the proposed condemnation referred to earlier, we are going to go over the four most common defenses. One or more of these could be used by an attorney to challenge eminent domain.

For the Public Project in Question, the Government Doesn’t “Need” Your Property

The government may not be able to condemn your property even if they have a valid public purpose (see below). If, for the government’s project, it isn’t “necessary” to acquire your property, you may have a case against them. Only enough private property needed to complete the project intended will normally be authorized under most state statutes. “A lack of necessity” can sometimes be used to defeat a case where the government wants to take away property from a landowner.

Sufficient Public Purpose for Condemnation Is Lacked by the Government

The government must have a legitimate public purpose in order for condemnation of private property to be allowed through the power of eminent domain. Unfortunately, there is a relatively broad interpretation where “public purpose” is concerned. If a valid public purpose cannot be used to justify the proposed condemnation by the government, the constitutional rights of the landowner may be violated.

To Condemn Your Property, Government Authority Is Lacking

The proper authority must be possessed by a government agency in order for eminent domain to be exercised in the condemnation of your property. Government agencies can’t just make a decision to move forward because they’ve condemned a private owner’s property. The power of eminent domain is, however, generally possessed by the federal government, public utilities, and departments of transportation.

“Just Compensation” Has Not Been Offered by the Government for Your Property

Under the law, your only option may be seeking just compensation for your property. If the offer for your property (by the government) is not reasonable, on your behalf, a fair settlement may be negotiated by an eminent domain lawyer. There can be several ways in which a property’s value is determined, however. Seeking experienced legal representation is your best bet. Truthfully, anytime you feel your rights as a homeowner or property owner are being threatened, legal representation should be sought out. At the very least for consultation.

Can You Challenge Eminent Domain? Ask Carcich O’Shea

Landowners, property owners, etc. have rights. Do you feel your rights are being violated by the government or someone else? As a law office, we concentrate on representing and defending the rights of others.

If you’d like to get in touch with Carcich O’Shea, there are several ways to go about doing so. You can use our convenient online form, or visit our offices at 401 Hackensack Ave.; Suite 707; in Hackensack, or at 222 N. Main St. in New York City (please call ahead either way). We are also available at 201-988-1308 or by email at

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