Across the United States, municipalities, states, and even the federal government have the right to seize the property of private citizens under some circumstances. Although the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure of their property, government actors have carved out a range of “reasonable” seizures that are permitted under the law. Some of these seizures are defined under the term “eminent domain.”
Rhode Island has codified the standards for the state and municipalities to take real property from citizens under Rhode Island General Laws, 42-64.12. The laws under this chapter are designed to set the process for an eminent domain taking and ensure that persons who have property seized by the government for any purpose are compensated fairly for their loss.
One reason the government commonly uses eminent domain powers is to construct or modify roadways or other infrastructure or utility improvements. Because this use is widely understood to be in furtherance of the public good, the government need only compensate private citizens for the property’s fair market value. In addition to infrastructure uses, the government often seeks to seize private property for economic development purposes. Because economic development is not as widely agreed to be for the public good, the government needs to compensate private citizens whose property is seized for economic development more generously than for other uses. Specifically, the government must pay at least 150% of the property’s fair market value, as well as for relocation and moving expenses incurred by the person whose property was seized.
It is possible for a private citizen to successfully challenge an eminent domain taking by the government if the correct actions are taken. Rhode Island laws require government actors to pursue certain steps and give adequate notice to property owners before taking the property. If the government fails to follow the procedure properly, a private property owner may be able to prevent the taking or negotiate a more favorable compensation agreement. Seeking the counsel of a qualified Rhode Island property attorney can help ensure property owners are being treated fairly in the event of an eminent domain taking.
What Do You When You Receive Notice of an Eminent Domain Taking?
Real estate laws can be very complex, especially when dealing with the government. If you have received a notice that the government intends to seize your property using its eminent domain powers, it is essential to retain legal counsel as soon as possible to keep your options open and ensure a favorable result. Retaining a knowledgeable Rhode Island real estate attorney can give you peace of mind that you will be treated fairly in the event of a government taking. The qualified Rhode Island real estate lawyers with Bilodeau Capalbo have experience handling eminent domain issues, and with our advice and representation, you may even be able to prevent your property from being seized. Call us at 401-300-4055 to discuss your issue and schedule a free consultation with a qualified Rhode Island real estate attorney today.