Arizona Eminent Domain & Condemnation Law
Property owners are sometimes surprised to learn that the federal government, the State of Arizona, and even local government have an inherent power to take private property and covert it to public use. This power is known as eminent domain, and the legal process the government uses to acquire and convert the private property to public use is called condemnation.
Although this process may appear to be unfair, private property owners do have constitutional and other legal protections in connection with condemnation proceedings. One of the most important of these rights is the right to receive reasonable compensation for the condemned property.
Protecting Your Rights In Condemnation Proceedings
An experienced eminent domain attorney familiar with condemnation proceedings can help ensure that property owners receive the maximum compensation owed to them for their condemned property. In our experience, property owners should never accept the first offer made to them but many property owners do so without consulting with an eminent domain attorney, who can help explain the process by which a higher value can be negotiated or, if necessary, determined in formal legal proceedings.
Property owners also have the right to object to the scope of the taking, to ensure that the property taken by the government is not more than is needed for the designated purpose of the taking. Of course, an attorney experienced with condemnation proceedings can also help determine whether the government has a valid public purpose for exercising its eminent domain rights and, if necessary, litigate to defend the owner's property rights.
The Eminent Domain Process In Arizona
In Arizona, before initiating formal condemnation proceedings, the government appraises the property in question and makes a purchase offer based on its appraisal. If the property owner rejects this offer the government initiates formal condemnation proceedins by filing a lawsuit. In that lawsuit the court will determine whether the govenment has a valid public purpose for condemning the property and ultimately determine the reasonable value that must be paid for the property. At any time during the course of these proceedings the parties may participate in settlement negotiations and we have found that disputed claims are often resolved before an eminent domain trial is held.
Arizona property owners facing condemnation should always consult with an experienced attorney before resolving their claims or attempting to handle claims on their own. In many cases the potential benefits realized by hiring an attorney may outweigh the costs.