Local, state and the federal government have the authority of eminent domain, which means that they can take private land for “public use” and in exchange for just compensation. Some private companies or individuals may also be granted the power to condemn private property for redevelopment, oil and gas pipelines and other utilities. If the government has contacted you about taking your property through eminent domain, seeking the counsel of skilled Pennsylvania real estate lawyers who are also well-versed in business law is vital to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.
Just Compensation for Your Property and Expenses
So what exactly does “just compensation” mean if you’re a business or property owner who relies on income that involves your property? According to Pennsylvania Eminent Domain Code, ‘just’ is “the difference between the fair market value of the property owner’s entire property interest immediately before the condemnation and the fair market value of the property interest immediately after the condemnation.”
The legal issues surrounding compensation for eminent domain are complex. You may challenge the valuation of your property; however, it is not a good idea to attempt negotiations without experienced business lawyers by your side. An attorney will guide you through the procedures required to challenge the valuation and fight to ensure you receive fair and reasonable compensation not only for your property, but for relocation and business expenses as well.
Damages for Relocation and Actual Reasonable Expenses
Under Pennsylvania law, all acquiring agencies must pay damages for relocation “in a manner which is fair and reasonable, and as uniform as practicable.” Certain types of small businesses, farms and non-profit organizations are also entitled to recover actual reasonable expenses of reestablishing their enterprise at a new location.
Although this law may seem straightforward, disputes between the business owner and acquiring agency often arise. Relocation costs vary widely, depending on the type of business. For example, a law firm may only need to move furniture, files and office equipment and supplies, so most of their expenses may result from reestablishment. Businesses are also entitled to receive compensation for items such as business cards, stationery and marketing materials that require a new address.
However, a manufacturing company may have large machines made specifically for a particular type of operations. Moving large machinery is difficult, expensive and may not be possible in some situations. If a business has to purchase new equipment or cease operation, they deserve to receive just compensation for their losses.
Calculating Relocation Expenses
Calculating all of your relocation expenses can be extremely difficult. Many property and business owners underestimate all of the expenses that they will incur if they are forced to move. Regardless of how big your business is, consulting knowledgeable lawyers for real estate transactions involving eminent domain is a must. An attorney will understand how to properly calculate your losses and can help you identify all of the possible avenues for compensation. Your legal team may also employ appraisal experts who specialize in eminent domain cases. Their assessments can aid in negotiations or in court. Many construction contract lawyers are quite adept at handling these types of contentious cases as well.
Are you facing loss of your property or business due to eminent domain? Our experienced legal team at Carosella & Associates can help you recover full compensation for your property and business expenses.