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Condemnation (Real Estate: What It Is And How It Works)

What is Condemnation in real estate?

How do you legally define it?

What are the essential elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let’s dig into the condemnation definition in real estate!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

Condemnation Real Estate

Condemnation in real estate is a process whereby the government authorities acquire private property to be used by the public or to provide certain benefits to the public.

Typically, condemnation requires that the government pay the owner of the private property compensation for the acquisition.

We can hear about:

  • Condemnation land
  • Public condemnation
  • Private condemnation 
  • Property condemnation 
  • Condemnation easement 

These are variant terms relating to the process of condemnation for different reasons.

For example, the government can purchase private property to build a school or a hospital.

Based on the condemnation law, the government acquires real estate property and transforms the property in such a way as to benefit the public.

There are instances when the government does not acquire the property but instead adopts rules and regulations to reduce or even eliminate the usefulness of the property (that’s called inverse condemnation).

Here are some reasons why the government may acquire property for public use or benefit:

  • To build highways
  • To build schools
  • To build prisons
  • To build airports
  • To build government facilities 

Federal and state governments, including local ones, are given legal powers to take up private property to advance public projects and activities.

Why Condemn Private Property

The main reason why the government may want to condemn private property is to pursue its mission for the benefit of the public.

For example, you can have the government looking to acquire a property for the following purposes:

  • School 
  • Highway
  • Parks 
  • Hospitals
  • Redevelopment 
  • Civic buildings 
  • Urban renewal 
  • Roads 
  • Prison 
  • Railroads 
  • Bridges 

The government can also exercise the condemnation process to have the property owner vacate a property for various reasons such as unsafe conditions 

Who Can Condemn Property

The government has the power to condemn property and it can include:

  • The federal government
  • The state government 
  • The local government 
  • Government agencies through delegated powers 

An entity with the power to condemn is typically referred to as the condemning authority.

How Does The Government Condemn Property

The government condemns property by issuing a legal order instructing the property occupants to vacate the property.

Depending on the order issued, the occupants may be required to leave the entire property or parts of the property.

The authorities may want to prevent harm caused to the occupants when the property is dilapidated or unsafe.

Alternatively, the authorities may want to exercise eminent domain to condemn property and obtain title to the property for public use or benefit.

In this case, the government must pay the property owner just compensation to take ownership of the property.

The condemnation order can be permanent or temporary depending on the government’s objective.

Condemnation Legal Definition

“Condemnation” is a term used to refer to the legal power given to the government (federal, state, or local) to take private property to advance public activities.

Such power can also be delegated to governmental agencies as needed to condemn property to advance their mission.

In such cases, the owner of the private property may not have the right to challenge the condemnation of his or her property but may dispute the amount of compensation given by the government.

Condemnation Action

According to the Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, condemnation action is defined as follows:

A condemnation action is a lawsuit where a government is exercising eminent domain to procure private property for some public use or benefit. 

As you can see from this definition, condemnation action is a type of lawsuit instituted by the government to procure land or real estate.

In most cases, the owner of the property is entitled to be notified that the government or state will proceed with the condemnation of his or her property.

The ideal scenario is that the government purchases the property from the owner in a free and voluntary manner.

However, in cases where the owner does not agree with the condemnation or the amount paid, a legal challenge may be contemplated.

When the government institutes a condemnation action, it may be very difficult for the owner to escape the condemnation but is surely entitled to proper compensation.

It may be worth it for the owner to consult a qualified and experienced attorney in this matter to better understand the process and the implications of the lawsuit.

Condemnation vs Eminent Domain

What is the difference between condemnation and eminent domain?

Essentially, “condemnation” is a term used to refer to the government’s power to take private property to advance public policies and measures.

Eminent domain means essentially the same thing and is primarily governed by state legislation.

Many government bodies and entities are given the power and authority to “condemn” private property for public purposes.

When we talk about a condemnation or condemnation action, we are referring to instances when the government takes the physical possession and title to the property.

When we talk about eminent domain, we are generally talking about the right to condemn property.

Condemnation of Property Takeaways 

So what is the legal definition of Condemnation?

What does condemnation mean in real estate?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Condemnation In Real Estate

  • “Condemnation” is a legal mechanism allowing the government to take up the property either for the property to be vacated or to acquire the property for some public use 
  • Eminent domain condemnation is when the government takes property to advance its mission for the benefit of the public 
  • When we refer to “condemnation”, we can refer to the process of condemning property either because it is unsafe, violates safety codes, or in the context of the government’s right to take over property 
  • A condemnation action is a type of lawsuit where, among other things, parties deal with the state’s right to condemn property and the compensation the owner may be entitled to
Commercial transaction 
Condemnation litigation
Construction defects 
Easement in gross
Eminent domain 
Fannie Mae
Industrial transaction
Land condemnation 
Precondemnation planning 
Property appraisal 
Real estate encumbrances 
Real property 
Voluntary purchase
Writ of mandamus
Civil procedure 
Construction law 
Deed of mortgage 
Fair market value 
Homeowner’s insurance
In rem jurisdiction 
Just compensation 
Land use 
Pro Tanto
Quasi in rem jurisdiction
Quick Take laws
Requisitioned property 
Zoning law 

Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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