California has some of the most valuable real estate in the entire country. A house that sells for $1,000,000 in California might be worth less than a quarter of that amount if it was in the Midwest. The home that you live in is a major investment and also a source of personal pride and security. Unfortunately, some people lose their homes because the state takes their property.
Eminent domain is the legal process by which a state seizes private real estate from an owner. When might your home be at risk of an eminent domain claim in California?
California uses eminent domain for projects that benefit the public
In some states, any business can initiate eminent domain proceedings. There have been famous cases where companies forced dozens of homeowners to move and then never constructed the facility that they acquired all that land for in the first place.
In California, private companies usually don’t have a role in eminent domain unless they provide utilities or crucial public services. Most eminent domain proceedings in California have to do with public projects. These might include constructing new streets, expanding existing roads, extending utilities to nearby areas or even building civic facilities.
You should receive compensation for your property
If state officials or developers claim that your property is necessary for an important public project, they can’t just take your home. They have to offer you fair compensation for it. Knowing the fair market value of your home is very important if you find yourself facing eminent domain proceedings, as an unreasonably low offer could be grounds for pushing back against the seizure of your property. The better you understand eminent domain and other property laws in California, the easier it will be to respond appropriately.