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Inverse Condemnation, Regulatory Takings

Posted on January 15 2015 by Gabriela Ocampo

The use of an inverse condemnation or a regulatory taking are ways that government agencies use the law to make property owners unreasonable offers for their property. If you either own property that may be subject to these types of actions or operate a business on such property, both regulatory takings and inverse condemnation are topics that may be of interest to you.

What are Regulatory Takings?

Governments are able to "cheat" when they want something. They can literally change the legal landscape of an entire area to their advantage by changing the local laws. One example of this is a regulatory taking, which is when a government imposes regulations that will limit how a piece of private property can be used. While there are always going to be some limitations imposed by the law, sometimes limitations can become extreme.

One way that government entities can use regulatory takings to provide themselves with a fertile ground for lowballing you is to make your property essentially valueless. If you are unable to use your property for what you need to use it for, what good is it too you? All they have to do is impose a legal restriction on using your property for what you use it for, and then they can come in and make what should be a ridiculously low offer. Since they are often immune to their own legislation, the government body can then use the land however it likes.

What is Inverse Condemnation?

The government may flood your property, seize it, retain it after a lease has expired, deprive your access or even remove necessary ground support. In most cases, if the government wants to take your property without paying you what you are due, they sue you and become the plaintiff. In the case of inverse condemnation, they take or damage your property by default and you have to sue them for your rightful compensation. The inversion is you becoming the plaintiff.

Why Do They Do This?

Actions such as an inverse condemnation and regulatory taking are used when a government agency wants your property but does not want to pay you a fair amount of compensation for it. While there are situations in which selling a piece of land or other real property for a "token dollar" is a reasonable course of action, those situations do not include when a government body wants to use that land. Governments can use these technically legal but highly unlawful tactics when they wish to conserve their budgets or believe that they can make a lowball offer and receive your property for next to nothing.

By definition, if the government wants to use a piece of real estate, that property carries some type of value. A problem results when what the government is willing to offer as compensation for that property is dramatically less than what it is worth on the open market. While government bodies are supposed to play by some sort of consistent rules, often those rules are bent at the first opportunity an ambitious bureaucrat notices for trimming spending.

Bureaucracy itself is often another point to blame for the use of regulatory takings or inverse condemnation. In some cases, workers who have the power to take something from someone else or make the other person's life more difficult do so just because it can be done. This is institutionalized sadism, and some members of government agencies think that they can get away with it. Fortunately, there are law firms that can help you to fight for what you are reasonably entitled to for your property.