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Summary of the Eminent Domain Law in Idaho

Few issues evoke such strong opposition as the taking of private land through eminent domain for a public use. 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.

Your initial question might be, can I stop the process? 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 through to learn about the Idaho eminent domain process, your rights as a property owner and hiring an Idaho eminent domain attorney.

We can help property owners located throughout the state as we have a licensed attorney in Idaho. Our firm only represent property owners, never the condemning authority or government.

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, Idaho has passed legislation that requires the government to pay property owner’s attorney’s fees when the statutory threshold is met.

Idaho Eminent Domain Process

In the state of Idaho, 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 Idaho 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.

Idaho Property Rights

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.

Since the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London many states across the country have taken measures to help protect the rights of private ownership.  The controversial Kelo decision held that a local government can take the private property of one person and give it to another private entity.  While the Court’s ruling was seen by many as a serious blow to citizen’s constitutionally protected rights of private property ownership, the decision prompted a number of states to initiate legislative reform to help curb eminent domain abuse.

The Castle Coalition has released a report, grading each of the states based on their efforts to protect private property owners and their rights based on changes in their respective state laws.  The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice’s nationwide grassroots property rights activism project that teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to abuse by governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain. The Castle Coalition gave a letter grade of a D+ to the state of Idaho for their property rights, here is why:

“Unlike many states, Idaho has relatively weak constitutional language regarding the property rights guaranteed its citizens. While the Idaho Constitution does require that condemned property be taken for a public use, it also says “any … use necessary to the complete development of the material resources of the state, or the preservation of the health of its inhabitants, is hereby declared to be a public use.” To the detriment of property owners in the state, the Idaho Supreme Court has further weakened property rights by adopting an interpretation of public use that is not tied to—and therefore not restrained by—any traditional understanding.”

“In 2006, the Idaho Legislature passed House Bill 555, which ostensibly adds to the state’s existing law by providing limitations on eminent domain for private parties, urban renewal, or economic development purposes. Unfortunately, the Legislature left several loopholes, including one that allows condemnations for “those public and private uses for which eminent domain is expressly provided in the constitution of the State of Idaho.” Thanks to the aforementioned broad language of the Idaho Constitution and its interpretation by the state supreme court, the door to eminent domain abuse remains wide open.”

“In the November 2006 election, the state had a citizen initiative, Proposition 2, on the ballot that contained the same meager reforms contained in HB 555, but with the added (and very controversial) element that would have limited regulatory takings. In the absence of meaningful protection against eminent domain abuse and with the added confusion of the regulatory takings measure, the amendment failed to pass.”

Castle Coalition

Hiring an Eminent Domain Attorney in Idaho

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. Also, Idaho 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.

Attorney’s fees may be awarded in Idaho if the final judgment of compensation exceeds the last amount offered by the condemning authority by 10 percent or more. (I.C. § 7-711A)

Or, if the condemning authority fails to pay required relocation costs, then the property owner shall be awarded attorney’s fees and costs incurred, as well as the relocation costs. Costs and fees awarded will be determined by the court. (I.C. § 40-2013). Because of the protections provided by these statutes, even small claimants in Idaho may be able to hire an attorney to pursue their claim.

Very few attorneys can claim expertise in the area of eminent domain law. To determine if you have a case, make sure you consult with an eminent domain trial attorney who can effectively identify damages and select the necessary experts. Your attorney should also be able to interface with the condemning authority and be willing to take your case to trial if negotiations can not be reached. 


The unique state of Idaho provides limited rights that are guaranteed to property owners, along with vague definitions of when condemnation can occur. The state constitution allows for loopholes in the law, leaving property owners vulnerable to unjust takings.

Contact Us

Questions about Idaho Eminent Domain Law or if you’re interested in a free consultation, contact us today! If you want to call us, our main number is 866-339-7242. We look forward to hearing from you.