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Regulatory Takings

Inverse Condemnation and Regulatory Takings

Regulatory Takings are the most common inverse condemnation situation and arise when a government entity passes some type of regulation that restricts a property owners ability to use their property. The common term for this is zoning. In the past few decades, zoning ordinances have started to encroach more and more on property owners, consequently restricting and changing the way they can use their property.

Fortunately for property owners, the courts have taken notice of this practice and now give owners the opportunity to take legal action if this occurs. If a new zoning ordinance restricts the use of property so significantly that it effectively takes the property from the property owner, or if the ordinance takes the use of the property away from the owner, then the property owner has the right to pursue an inverse condemnation claim to initiate the eminent domain process.

Standard Tests for Regulatory Takings

There are two standard tests that have been established by the US Supreme Court with regards to regulatory takings:

Lucas Test

If the regulation takes away all the use for that property, a total taking – or a Lucas taking – has occurred. If a property owner has a Lucas taking, they are entitled to the entire value that property had before the regulation was imposed.

Penn Central Test

Under the Penn Central Test, a partial taking has taken place. With a Penn Central taking, the owner still has some use to the property after the regulation is imposed, but the use has been so severely restricted that it causes the value of property to decrease significantly. If this occurs, a property owner has a valid regulatory taking claim.

This area of the law is fairly complicated and complex and typically involves some of the more sophisticated areas of litigation in eminent domain law. Therefore, it’s important to consult with and hire an experienced eminent domain attorney to assist you with your claim.

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