Property Owner Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Property Owner Frequently Asked Questions
Can I stop the taking of my property?
In some cases, it is possible to stop the use of eminent domain. A taking can be stopped when the government or utility company has not followed the law, such as failing to make a good faith offer to acquire the property. In other situations, the attack may be that the development is not for a public purpose or that the taking is excessive. As a general rule, it is more difficult to stop a traditional public project, such as widening a road, than a private developer using eminent domain via tax increment financing. For more information, see Fighting Eminent Domain.
Can I move the project off my property?
You have the right to request that the project be relocated if the request is timely made. However, the government may still refuse to move the project. Under such circumstances, making the taking too expensive for the government is often the best approach.
What should I do when the government "knocks at my door?"
Once you become aware that your property may be taken through eminent domain, you should immediately contact a qualified eminent domain attorney. Often, that is before the government contacts you or makes you an offer. Unlike a normal real estate situation where you can always refuse to sell your property, the government does not give you a choice — you must either sell or be condemned. Needless to say, the property owner is dealing with unfamiliar laws and procedures and should contact an experienced attorney, especially one whose entire practice is representing property owners in eminent domain.
Should I handle my own negotiations?
It is not recommended. You could hurt your right to full compensation. During the negotiation process, you may turn over information that the government will use to justify a lower offer, or you might make statements that will later be used against you in the legal process. The amount of compensation that you are entitled to receive is based on complicated legal principles, and an experienced eminent domain attorney will be able to fully protect your rights.
Should I hire an appraiser?
It is not advisable to hire an appraiser without talking to a lawyer first. Eminent domain involves unique valuation issues that most appraisers are not trained to work with. An appraisal that does not follow the law may underestimate your compensation and could be used against you in court.
Moreover, an appraiser may not be the right person in your case. Developers, brokers, accountants, urban planners, construction personnel, and tree experts are just a few of the alternatives that exist.
Why do I need an attorney?
Eminent domain can be complicated and intimidating for a property or business owner.Although the government may appear to be accommodating, its primary focus is to determine the least expensive way to acquire your property.The only way for you to fully know your rights and create a level playing field with the government or utility company is to contact an experienced attorney in eminent domain. You should make sure that the lawyer you hire devotes his practice solely to representing property owners like yourself. Consulting with an eminent domain attorney is the best way to protect your rights and ensure full compensation for your losses.
Why Denlow & Henry?
We are the only law firm in Missouri which exclusively practices eminent domain law on behalf of property owners. For over 40 years, we have handled every type of property, including shopping centers, businesses, farms, vacant land, fast food restaurants, office warehouses, residences, apartments, churches, and large office buildings. Our experience gives us the ability to quickly diagnose the situation and offer timely assistance. We have the skills and experience to level the playing field against the government.
What does it cost?
If you want to control your legal fees and reduce your risk, use a contingency fee. Many of our clients are concerned about paying legal fees in an eminent domain case. That is why Denlow & Henry has provided contingency fee arrangements for its clients. In a contingency fee arrangement our firm will be paid a percentage of any monies recovered above the offer. That way, we are paid only if we obtain more monies. Alternatively, clients can also retain our services on an hourly basis.