Are you impacted by eminent domain in New York? When it comes to eminent domain, the government is playing in their arena; they do this every day. They know what the rules are, they know how the rules affect them and they know how the rules affect property owners. If the government is taking your land, make sure that you become informed so that you know what you can and cannot do.
In most cases, you won’t be able to prevent the government from acquiring your land, but you are entitled to just compensation under eminent domain law. Learn more about eminent domain generally and what you’re entitled to receive, or continue reading to learn about the New York eminent domain process, your rights as a property owner and hiring a New York eminent domain attorney.
Our New York eminent domain practice is extensive, with clients ranging from New York City to Utica to Rochester. We have experience handling cases for property owners affected by redevelopment projects – most recently the Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn – and we also have experience handling cases for landowners affected by NYS DOT projects and utility projects throughout the state. We’ve obtained beneficial rulings for property owners at the New York Appellate Division and we’ve successfully handled cases of first impression at the lower court level to help expand property rights. Did you know that most eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis? With this fee structure, the attorney assumes the risk of earning a fee. Also, a property owner’s attorney’s fees and costs may be paid for by the government or condemning authority when certain criteria are met.
In the state of New York, the eminent domain process can only be stopped if the proposed taking does not meet the requirements for public purpose or public necessity. If you have determined that the proposed taking does meet these requirements, then you should learn more about the New York eminent domain process.
Remember, even if the government has the right to condemn your property, they cannot dictate the price they are willing to pay; compensation is determined by the highest and best use laws for your property. The following page contains detailed legal information and a flow chart on the New York eminent domain process.
Learn more about the New York Eminent Domain Process
The eminent domain abuse dialogue often centers on policy issues involving the right to take property for economic development and blight. Since the landmark case of Kelo v. City of New London in 2005, many states have taken measures to help curb eminent domain abuse. Some states were very successful at passing meaningful reform, and other states failed to pass any legislation at all. Most states fall in the middle by passing legislation that looks good on paper but does little to level the playing field between property owners and the government.
The Castle Coalition, a nationwide grassroots property activism project by the Institute for Justice, released a comprehensive report in 2006 that graded each state based on eminent domain legislative changes which expand and protect property rights.
Did you know that the Castle Coalition gave New York an F when it comes to property owners’ protection against eminent domain? Continue reading to learn more.
Learn more about New York Property Rights
The most blatant form of eminent domain abuse occurs when the government or condemning authority makes a ‘low ball’ offer. This scenario invariably requires the property owner to hire an attorney to obtain just compensation. Fortunately, the vast majority of eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, meaning they charge a percentage of the additional money they obtain for the property owner.
New York has passed legislation requiring the condemning authority to pay the property owner’s attorneys fees and costs in eminent domain cases if certain criteria are met.
In instances where the final award is substantially greater than the condemning authority’s offer of payment, the court may, upon application and in its discretion, award the property owner an additional amount for costs and attorney’s fees. The expenses must be incurred to achieve just and adequate compensation (NY EM DOM PROC § 701).
‘Substantially greater’ is unfortunately not defined in this statute, which leaves it open to interpretation by the courts. Based on our experience and prior court rulings, a final award is ‘substantially greater’ if it is 50% or $100,000 greater than the condemning authority’s offer of compensation. Remember, this is not a statutory definition and can therefore not be applied in every case.
Very few attorneys can claim expertise in the area of eminent domain law. If you’re affected by eminent domain, you should obtain a consultation from an eminent domain lawyer so that you know and understand your rights before taking any action. Remember, the government is like any buyer, they will want to purchase your property as cheaply as possible, and their appraisers may neglect to consider damages that can lead to a larger amount of just compensation. Contact us for a free case evaluation.