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Minnesota Eminent Domain Process

The majority of eminent domain cases in Minnesota 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 purpose or public necessity, then continue reading to learn more about the eminent domain process in the state of Minnesota. 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 Minnesota.MN-flowchart

Extended Flow Chart Information (click to open)

1. Government Announced 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
Before commencing an eminent domain proceeding, the condemning authority must obtain at least one appraisal for the property in question. While creating the appraisal report, the appraiser must make a reasonable effort to confer with the property owner. The acquiring authority must then provide the owner with a copy of any and all appraisals they have obtained at the time an offer is made. This can be no later than 60 days before the petition for eminent domain is presented. They must also inform the property owner of the right to obtain a second appraisal. (Minn. Stat. § 117.036(2)(a)).
4. Government Makes Offer to Property Owner and Provides Appraisal
The appraisal must be provided to owner at the time the offer is made. (Minn. Stat. § 117.036(2)(a))
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 condemning authority must make a good faith attempt to personally negotiate with the property owner, or the property owner’s eminent domain lawyer, to acquire the property through a direct purchase before initiating an eminent domain proceeding. (Minn. Stat. § 117.036(3))
7. Select Appraiser to Determine True Property Value
If the property owner is not satisfied with the acquiring authority’s appraisal, a second appraisal may be obtained by a qualified appraiser, with reimbursement from the condemning authority. For single-family and two-family residential properties, the owner may be reimbursed up to a maximum of $1,500. For other types of properties, the property owner may be reimbursed up to $5,000. To obtain reimbursement, the property owner must submit necessary materials to the acquiring authority, including a copy of owner’s appraisal. The appraisal must be submitted at least 5 days before the commissioners hearing, and reimbursement for the appraisal will be paid to the property owner or appraiser within 30 days of submission. (Minn. Stat. § 117.036(2)(b))It is highly recommended to consult with an eminent domain attorney prior to obtaining a second appraisal. An eminent domain attorney will thoroughly review the initial appraisal and determine its strengths and weaknesses. Based on this information, the attorney will indicate a selection for the most qualified appraiser to value the property in question and determine the damages to any remaining parcel. Remember, selecting an appraiser not qualified to value the property in question can negatively impact the amount of compensation the property owner is owed. 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.  The property owner should only take this step if they are satisfied with the amount of compensation offered by the condemning authority.
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 condemning 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 Owner Does Not Agree with Offer
If, after negotiations, the property owner is not satisfied with the amount offered by the condemning authority, they can refuse the offer and allow condemnation to occur.
12. Property Owner Must Not Sign any Settlement Papers
If the property owner is not satisfied with the offer, they must not sign any settlement papers.  By signing these documents, they are accepting the offer and their case is done.  They must wait for the government to initiate the eminent domain proceeding.
13. Government Initiates Eminent Domain Proceeding
If the condemning authority needs to take control of the property before the commissioners have made an award, the government may pay the owner, or deposit with the clerk of courts, the full amount of the acquiring authority’s appraisal. After payment, and upon giving the owner 90 days notice, the government may then take title and possession of the property in question. (Minn. Stat. § 117.042)
14. Property Owner Pursues Claim for Additional Damages in the Eminent Domain Proceeding
If negotiations can not be reached, 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.
15. Court Appoints 3 Commissioners to Determine Amount of Claim
The court will appoint 3 commissioners to hear evidence of the additional damages claim, none of whom may have any relationship, business or otherwise, with the property owner or any other interested party. All of the commissioners who are appointed must be actively engaged and knowledgeable in real estate values and appraisals. The court may in its discretion appoint an attorney familiar with eminent domain proceedings. (Minn. Stat. § 117.075(3)) After their appointment, the commissioners meet and hear both parties’ evidence and proofs regarding the additional damages claim. After hearing both parties, the commissioners must file a report within 90 days of their appointment, which will contain the amount of the award for the property owner. (Minn. Stat. § 117.105(1))
16. Either Party may Appeal Commissioners Award to District Court
Within 40 days of the commissioners’ report being filed, either party may appeal with the district court by filing a notice with the court administrator, and also by mailing the notice to all respondents and other interest parties in the case. (Minn. Stat. § 117.145)

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

The eminent domain process in the state of Minnesota 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 Minnesota.

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