In the United States, eminent domain law enables government entities to take private property to repurpose it for public use. Although landowners are generally given rights to their legally owned properties, there are some exceptions.
In the Constitution, eminent domain is one such exception that gives the government the right to take private property in exchange for fair compensation. The eminent domain process can be quite lengthy, especially if litigation is involved.
Learn more about the eminent domain process, how long eminent domain takes, and why it’s important to consult with an experienced Arizona eminent domain attorney right away.
A Look at Eminent Domain and the Eminent Domain Process
The government entity that desires to take your private property must first go through a series of steps. First, the government entity will make initial contact to express interest in your property. An appraisal of the property will then be arranged to determine the fair market value of the land.
Once the appraisal has been completed, the property owner is provided a copy of the appraisal, along with a monetary offer for the land. An offer to a private property owner is typically accompanied by a public hearing to justify why the property must be taken. During this hearing, the government entity must demonstrate that taking the property is required for a public project, that the public will benefit from taking the property, and that the homeowner has been provided with a fair offer.
If a landowner agrees to the sale of the property and the offer from the government entity, the government will issue payment and the property owner will relinquish the deed. However, if the property owner does not agree to sell the land or is unsatisfied with the offer amount, the two parties will need to attend a hearing.
Appraisers and attorneys are generally involved in this process. During the initial stages, a hearing may be held to determine the fair market value of the property. In some cases, the government entity and property owner will be able to come to an agreed-upon sale price. If not, the property owner can request a jury trial.
If the property owner believes that eminent domain is being exercised without meeting the necessary requirements, the case can be brought to court. Both parties will have the opportunity to provide evidence and explain their stance. Having an experienced Arizona eminent domain attorney to represent you in court is critical.
In the event of a jury verdict or settlement, the government entity will be required to pay you for your property within 30 days. Once the property owner has been compensated, the title to the property must be transferred to the government.
Factors that Impact the Length of Eminent Domain
The length of the eminent domain process in Arizona can range considerably based on a wide range of factors, such as if the property owner agrees to the initial offer or requests the case be brought to court. However, the average length of eminent domain in cases that do not require litigation is between three and six months. If the case does require litigation, property owners can expect the process to span 12 to 18 months.
Due to the complexity of eminent domain laws in Arizona, property owners may feel like the process is long and stressful. However, it’s important to understand what factors can impact the length of eminent domain.
1. Nature of the Project
The nature of the project being attempted can have a major impact on the eminent domain process. Depending on the size of the project, and whether it is being implemented by local, state, or federal authorities, the process could take less or more time. In most cases, public projects require approval from third parties which can take time to obtain.
2. Legal Timeframes
Government entities may need to wait a certain amount of time before proceeding with various steps of the eminent domain process. For example, a government entity is generally required to wait a specified amount of time after issuing an offer before it can initiate eminent domain proceedings.
3. Property Owner Disputes
If a property owner fights the eminent domain process, it can extend many more weeks or months. This is because the government entity and property owner will need to go to court to determine whether the government has the right to take the property and if the offer is sufficient based on the land’s fair market value. The larger the difference in opinion, the more time it will take to sort out these issues.
4. Property Appraisals
When a government entity wants to take private property, it will generally send an appraiser to look at the land and determine its fair market value. However, a property owner may not agree with the appraiser’s figure and may choose to hire their own appraiser. This could potentially prolong the process as the findings of the appraisal will need to be shared in court.
5. Type of Property Taking
The type of property taking executed by the government entity can also play a role in the length of time the eminent domain process takes. There are two main types of takings: complete and partial. Complete occurs when the government takes an entire
parcel of land and partial occurs when only a portion is taken. The length of the process can also differ based on whether it’s a permanent taking or temporary taking.
Importance of Contacting an Arizona Eminent Domain Attorney
Receiving a notice from a government entity that they wish to take your land can be a confusing and frustrating experience. You may not be willing to sell your land or may want to avoid the potential negative outcome that selling your land could cause, such as reducing the value of your remaining property.
If you have been notified about the government’s intent to take your property, it’s important to act fast. Consult with an experienced Arizona eminent domain attorney at JacksonWhite about your rights and how to proceed with your case. Call us now at (480)467-4334!