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Old 11-16-2007, 03:23 PM   #1
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Eminent Domain

Has anyone heard of this eminent domain before? Can't believe if the government wants you house they can just have it? When did this all start? I thought if you buy a house it is yours. Is it because it is on ground the United States government owns? I can't figure how they can do this to people. A family lived in their house all their lives and now the government is making them move. This is really not fair. What are your thoughts? Does it pay to buy a home?

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Old 11-16-2007, 03:26 PM   #2
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This happens all the time. When highways or bridges, etc. are being built, the houses in the way are bought from the owners so the work can be done.

The arguement is that it is for the greater good of all.
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Old 11-16-2007, 03:40 PM   #3
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It's pretty big in a couple towns near me. Long Branch & Asbury Park used to be two of the best shore towns NJ has to offer...years ago. After the downfall of the boardwalk attractions, amongs other things, the two adjoining towns became infested with drugs and crime.

About 5 or so years ago, a rehabilitation started and many of the homes were taken over by the city to proceed with the project.
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Old 11-16-2007, 03:41 PM   #4
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Has anyone heard of this eminent domain before? Can't believe if the government wants you house they can just have it? When did this all start? I thought if you buy a house it is yours. Is it because it is on ground the United States government owns? I can't figure how they can do this to people. A family lived in their house all their lives and now the government is making them move. This is really not fair. What are your thoughts? Does it pay to buy a home?
The government doesn't just take it - it's required in the Constitution that the government pay just compensation for a property that is needed for some public purpose, as Andy said. I sure think it pays to buy a home, or I wouldn't have bought one

There are more details and background info here: Eminent Domain

There have been some news reports in the last year or so about some cities or towns taking it too far and using eminent domain to tear down perfectly good, middle-class homes in order to sell the land to developers who will build more expensive properties, thus increasing the tax base. I don't agree with this at all, although unfortunately the Supreme Court decided recently that it was okay: CNN.com - Supreme Court backs municipal land grabs - Jun 24, 2005
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Old 11-16-2007, 03:49 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by In the Kitchen View Post
Has anyone heard of this eminent domain before? Can't believe if the government wants you house they can just have it? When did this all start? I thought if you buy a house it is yours. Is it because it is on ground the United States government owns? I can't figure how they can do this to people. A family lived in their house all their lives and now the government is making them move. This is really not fair. What are your thoughts? Does it pay to buy a home?

It's been around for hundreds of years. As GG said, it's in the US Constitution.
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Old 11-16-2007, 04:47 PM   #6
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Maybe reason I never heard of it is because people know they have no other alternative. I haven't read Constitution since I have been out of school. My memory isn't too good.

The reason I asked is this mother and her son were both up in age. She did not want to give up her home for a shopping center. Lot of tv coverage, newspapers, and others which maybe was meant for their plea to keep their home as the son was born in that house. Long time. Seemed so sad that at the end of her life she could not remain in her home she cared for.

Now according to Got Garlic the Supreme Court approved of whatever the government wants. Only proves the people really do not have to much to say about their homes. Wonder if they are planning highway over my home? I sure know they need more highways and we are in busy location. Well, why worry? Out of our hands.
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Old 11-16-2007, 05:56 PM   #7
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Actually the concept that the state could appropriate ones lands has been around for many centuries.

The US Constitution has in it the following clause 'nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation' to limit the ability of the government, often in Britain the king, the right to take away anyone's property, for whatever reason, including whim.

That clause is in the Fifth amendment, tacked onto the end of the sentence that gives villians, thieves, and even DCer's the right not to self incriminate.

The use of eminent domain has until recently been limited to use by the gov'ment for roads, airports, bridges, that sort of thing.

In the last few years private companies have used the courts to allow the usurpation of private property for 'the better good'. In other words a developer might be able to request the law allow the taking of people's properties considred undesirable by many to build a tony development, for the better good.

This was at least partially halted by GWB (not a political statement). How this whole thing will play out remains to be seen.

But the simple answer to the question is that you may think you own the place that is your castle, but others may be able to take it away whether you wish to sell or not.
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Old 11-16-2007, 06:15 PM   #8
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Maybe reason I never heard of it is because people know they have no other alternative. I haven't read Constitution since I have been out of school. My memory isn't too good.

The reason I asked is this mother and her son were both up in age. She did not want to give up her home for a shopping center. Lot of tv coverage, newspapers, and others which maybe was meant for their plea to keep their home as the son was born in that house. Long time. Seemed so sad that at the end of her life she could not remain in her home she cared for.

Now according to Got Garlic the Supreme Court approved of whatever the government wants. Only proves the people really do not have to much to say about their homes. Wonder if they are planning highway over my home? I sure know they need more highways and we are in busy location. Well, why worry? Out of our hands.
This sounds like one of those cases where the taking is for the supposed "greater good," rather than for a legitimate public use. Something similar happened here a few years ago, and it's not true that it's out of your hands or there's nothing you can do. You can get involved in your city or county government to find out what the plans are; when our city and state made plans to build a new bridge to replace an old one and move traffic out of our neighborhood, representatives from our local civic league were at the table, helping make the plans and inviting the engineers to civic league meetings where they could explain what they were doing to the citizens.

After that Supreme Court decision, most states started drafting legislation to limit what cities and counties can do with respect to eminent domain. You can find out what yours has done, if anything, and whether there are opportunities to have an influence. But if no one is there but the developers, then the developers will get their way.
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Old 11-16-2007, 06:57 PM   #9
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Seems like eminent domain started when the pilgrims first set foot at Plymouth Rock
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Old 11-16-2007, 07:16 PM   #10
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In Australia it is known as a resumption of land order and there are differences between the States (and I guess the Territories), depending on their individual Act but they are all similar. The compensation offered is never as much as if you were to sell your house by private treaty or auction. So far, at least in WA, the application of this section of the Land Act has been limited to needs by the State Govt (although possibly also Local Govt may have the right as well; I'm assuming Federal Govt has its own power) and not for use by private companies. I'd be surprised if this would change.

I think we are still in the process of indicating on a Title whether there is any other vested interest in a property, in terms of say a Govt utility. It was necessary for the purchaser to search with all the various possible contenders. Caught more than one person out. While it is possible to find out for proposed plans for your suburb/town, eg new roads, these have been known to change for various reasons incl (and often primarily) due to a change of desire by the Govt of the day. One of our major highways was re-routed with a change of political party at State Govt level, so they could look after their safe seats, supposedly.

Does Title Insurance cover you for eminent domain? I know we don't have Title Insurance here as it is implicit in the Torrens Title system, and I'm pretty sure Canada has it, but I can't recall whether the US has it.
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