What is eminent domain?

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution outlines the government’s right to acquire property, which is commonly called “eminent domain.” This limited power is balanced by the requirement for the private property owner to receive just compensation. This right can only be invoked for projects for a private use; it may also be delegated to private corporations for a legitimate public purpose, such as public utilities or railroad.

A government agency or authorized private company can invoke its right to eminent domain through condemnation, which is the process of acquiring private property. This process usually requires the participation of experts such as a real estate appraiser who specializes in eminent domain and legal representation for both the property owner and the agency acquiring the property. In Florida, the condemning authority (the agency acquiring the property) pays reasonable expert fees for both parties.

The appraiser will assess the full or partial property and provide his or her opinion of its valuation. He or she may present such findings before a judge and jury to decide upon what compensation should be rendered if negotiations are not met.