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The Basics of Rhode Island Eminent Domain Law

A variety of Rhode Island property law issues that require legal advice can affect property owners in the state. One such issue is eminent domain, which is the way that a state, municipality, or other entity granted eminent domain power by statute can take personal property for government use. Government entities must follow state and federal law in exercising eminent domain power, and the laws are designed to be fair to the private property owner who is giving up their property.

A commonly recognized use of eminent domain powers is for the construction or widening of roadways, however, there are several acceptable uses that allow the government to take private land. Rhode Island General Laws section 42-64.12-6 lists these uses as:

  • Providing for the public’s ownership and use;
  • Related to transportation and infrastructure including roads, highways, bridges, and associated ramps;
  • Related to the use of public utilities.

In addition, the government can use eminent domain to eliminate an “identifiable public harm” or to correct conditions adversely affecting public health, safety, morals, or welfare.

If the government plans on taking the property of a citizen for economic development purposes, to build a shopping center, for example, there are additional requirements to ensure that the benefits to the public at large of the economic development outweigh the burden placed on the property owner. Rhode Island General Laws Subsection 42-64.12 state that property taken by eminent domain for economic development purposes must be compensated as follows:

  • The owner must be paid at least 150 percent of the fair market value of the property.
  • The government must pay for all expenses that are incidental to the transfer of the property, including recording fees, prepayment penalties, and a pro-rated share of any prepaid property taxes or assessments for public utilities.
  • The government must also pay fair relocation expenses, including moving costs.

Rhode Island eminent domain law contains many other provisions and requirements to protect property owners from unfair use of the government’s eminent domain powers. If a government entity wants to use eminent domain to take possession of a landowner’s private property, the government must give advance notice of the taking. If you or your business have received a notice that a government entity seeks to use eminent domain to take a piece of real estate that you own or have an interest in, seeking legal counsel to protect your rights is a prudent decision.

Are You Dealing with a Rhode Island Real Estate Issue?

If you have received notice of a government entity trying to use eminent domain to take your property, the experienced Rhode Island real estate lawyers at Bilodeau Capalbo can help you navigate the process to challenge the taking or receive the maximum compensation for your property. At Bilodeau Capalbo, we represent property owners in all types of issues, including eminent domain takings. Our dedicated real estate lawyers have the knowledge and experience of Rhode Island law to best handle your case. To discuss your issue, call 401-300-4055 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.

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