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What's the Difference Between Eminent Domain and Inverse Condemnation?


Owning real estate means you could potentially face the government one day and they might want to take all or some of your property. The state might simply tell you that they are going to take it, or they might do something to take the property, or part of it, out of your control. This is where the difference between eminent domain and inverse condemnation lies.

Eminent Domain vs. Inverse Condemnation

For a property owner, understanding the difference between eminent domain and inverse condemnation is a must. Here is what you should know:

  • What is Eminent Domain?
  • Emiment domain refers to the government's ability to take private property and force the sale of it for public use. When doing so, the government has an obligation to pay just compensation for the property. It is possible for a property owner to challenge the government's ability to take the property, but such attempts rarely succeed. Instead, most legal battles are less focused on the actual seizure of the land and more interested in disputing the value of the property.

In California, the statute defines fair market value as the highest price on the date of valuation, which a seller would agree to and a buyer would be willing to pay for. Of course, the situation is not nearly as straightforward as it sounds and, oftentimes, this results in a battle between expert appraisers.

  • What is Inverse Condemnation?
  • Inverse condemnation entitles property owners to compensation if the government fails to pay the compensation that is required. It is initiated by the property owner when the government tries to seize the land without following proper eminent domain procedures. This is often referred to as a “taking” and requires the government to compensate the real estate owner accordingly, much like it would in an eminent domain case.

A taking can also result from damage or another form of diminution of the property’s use or value due to government conduct, or from a government regulation that goes too far. However, this is a complex area and absolutely requires the skilled legal assistance of an attorney experienced in such areas.

California Eminent Domain Attorneys You Can Trust

At Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP, our San Diego legal team has the experience, insight, and skill to guide you through even the most complex eminent domain matters. We have been representing clients for nearly three decades and will use our experience and knowledge to help protect your property, your company, and your best interests, regardless of its challenges.

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