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Arizona Eminent Domain Process

The majority of eminent domain cases in Arizona meet the requirement for public purpose and necessity. Examples of cases that meet these criteria are: property acquisition for highway improvement projects, and acquisitions for utility projects such as installation of power lines and sewer systems.

If the taking of your property meets the requirements for public necessity or public purpose, then continue reading to learn more about the eminent domain process in the state of Arizona. Please note that there are extended explanations for all of the numbered sections in the flow chart. Additionally, links to specific state statues are also provided, where applicable. Please be aware that the flow chart and explanations are simply an overview of the process and should not be used as a tool to take matters into your own hands.

If the taking of your property does not meet the requirement for public purpose and necessity, then you should learn more about your property rights in Arizona.

AZ-flowchart

Extended Flow Chart Information (click to open)

1. Government Announces Project and Properties Affected
Typically during project development, the condemning authority (whether that agency is the Department of Transportation, or a City/County Planning Division, etc.) will hold public meetings to inform the public of the upcoming project and how this project will affect private property.
2. Property Owner Hires Attorney
Depending upon the complexity of the case and the amount of additional damages done to the property, it may be necessary to allow condemnation to occur in order for the property owner to receive just compensation.  If this is the case, an eminent domain lawyer must be hired to assist the property owner with their claim.
3. Government Inspects and Values Property
The government has the right to enter the property to examine, map, appraise and survey the property. (§ 12-1116(A)(B)(C))
4. Government Makes Offer to Property Owner and Delivers Appraisal
At least 20 days before filing an action for condemnation, the government is required to provide a written offer to purchase the property. The offer must include the government’s estimate of just compensation for the property taken and damages to any additional parcel. They must also provide the property owner with copies of one or more appraisals that support the amount of compensation. (§ 12-1116(A)(1, 2))
5. Attorney Evaluates Offer
After the condemning authority makes an offer, the property owner’s attorney will evaluate the appraisal and offer to determine if it represents just compensation. If the attorney finds errors in the condeming authority’s valuation, then they will determine how best to proceed.
6. Determine Negotiation Strategy
The attorney will need to assess all damages that were not included in the condeming authority’s valuation and determine the full amount of compensation owed to the property owner.  The attorney will then determine how best to present this information to the condeming authority during the negotiation phase.
7. Select Appraiser to Determine True Property Value

The property owner may select an appraiser from a government-maintained approved list of appraisers for a second appraisal. This may be done at the government’s expense. (§ 12-1130(A))

Selecting an appraiser who can accurately value your property and assess the damages to any remaining parcel is one of the most critical steps in any eminent domain claim. Many times, property owners try to take matters into their own hands, and unknowingly hire an inexperienced appraiser. Unfortunately, this step could ruin a good claim. Visit our Resources page, under Why Act Now to read an example of how hiring the wrong appraiser can hurt your claim. Make sure you consult with an eminent domain attorney before hiring an appraiser on your own.

8. Property Owner Settles With Government
If the property owner signs the final settlement papers, they waive their right to pursue additional damages and the case is complete.
9. Deed is Transferred
Once the final settlement papers are executed by the property owner, the deed is transferred to the condemning authority.  It is at this time that ownership is transferred from the property owner to the condeming authority.
10. Owner’s Case is Done
The owner is paid in full, the condeming authority owns the property, and the owner’s case is completely done. The property owner can no longer file a claim to challenge the taking or to receive additional compensation.
11.Property Owenr Does Not Accept Offer
If, after negotiations, the property owner is not satisfied with the amount offered by the condeming authority, they can refuse the offer and allow condemnation to occur.
12. Government Initiates Eminent Domain Proceeding
The government must initiate the eminent domain proceeding in the superior court of the county the property resides in. At the time of filing the complaint, or at anytime thereafter, the government may apply to the court for an order granting immediate possession of the property. If at the hearing, the court determines the taking is necessary, it may order the government to submit a direct payment to the property owner, or a deposit of likely damages with the state treasury or clerk of courts. This would occur prior to the final judgment. Then, subject to court approval, the deposit may be released to the property owner. (§ 12-1116(A))
13. Property Owner Pursues Claim for Additional Damages in the Eminent Domain Proceeding
The government will initiate the eminent domain proceeding in order to acquire the property.  A hearing or trial will be scheduled to allow the property owner’s attorney to present their case to determine the amount of just compensation owed to the property owner.
14. Property Owner has Right to Jury to Decide Amount of Damages to be Paid
If requested by property owner, the final award of damages is determined by a jury trial. (§ 12-1122 (A))

 

If you have questions regarding the eminent domain process in Arizona, contact us for more information.

The eminent domain process in the state of Arizona is complicated, and if you are undergoing eminent domain and want to make sure you are justly compensated, you should speak to an eminent domain attorney. Speaking to an eminent domain attorney regarding your case will keep you informed of your rights, the eminent domain process, and whether or not your attorney’s fees will be paid for by the state of Arizona.

 

 

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