Get on the path to results today.

Site Content

Detail your services


Frequently Asked Questions


What is eminent domain?

Eminent domain is the  fundamental power of the government to take private property for a  public purpose without the owner’s consent.  The power of eminent domain  is incorporated in both the United States and Florida Constitutions.   The Florida Constitution also provides that no private property shall be  taken for a public purpose without full compensation.  Florida Statutes  provide for a twelve person jury to determine full compensation for the  property owner. 

What is the process and how long does it take?

Typically the process works as follows:

  1. •First,  the condemning authority (the government agency with the power to take  your property) will contact you to let you know that it is planning to  acquire your property to accomplished a public project.  The condemning  authority will hire a property appraiser to estimate the value of your  property.

  2. •Based  on the appraiser’s findings, the condemning authority will make an  offer to you.  If you accept the offer or both of you agree to an  alternative purchase price, the matter is settled.

  3. •If  you and the condemning authority do not agree on a purchase price, the  authority files a condemnation lawsuit.  The condemning authority will  seek to acquire the property in this lawsuit.

  4. •The  method of transferring property that is most common is called a quick  take procedure.  The condemning authority must convince a judge that the  property is being acquired for a public purpose, and the must deposit a  good faith estimate of value with the local Clerk of Court’s office.   The title to the property is transferred at the time of the deposit.   Generally you can withdraw the good faith deposit money even if you  believe your property has a greater value. 

  5. •If  a settlement amount cannot be reached, a jury will ultimately decide  the value of the property in a valuation trial.  If the jury decides  that full compensation is higher than the good faith estimate, you  receive the difference, as well as the interest on the amount of the  difference. 


Why do I need an attorney?

Eminent domain attorneys  protect the property owner’s interest.  Full compensation in an eminent  domain case is determined by many legal factors, some statutory and some  based upon prior decisions of the courts.  Eminent domain attorneys  utilize experts who are familiar with the condemnation process and are  well qualified to advise the property owner and assist counsel in  protecting your constitutional rights. 

  1. •It is important to obtain legal representation at the outset because:

  2. •In certain cases your attorney may be able to minimize the damage to your property.

  3. •In certain cases your attorney may obtain an early settlement.

  4. •The  pre-suit process can be complicated.  Participation without  representation may subject you to a variety of intrusive requests from  the condemning authority.


What you can expect...

The Florida Department of  Transportation and many condemning authorities have procedures in place  to negotiate in good faith with the owner prior to filing a lawsuit to  acquire a parcel.

  1. •Public meetings will occur to obtain input on the project design from nearby owners.

  2. •Property owners in the process should obtain legal representation at the outset..


Who pays the fees and costs of litigation?

The Florida Constitution  and Florida Statutes provide that the condemning authority must pay the  attorneys’ fees in an eminent domain matter.  Generally, the attorneys  who represent property owners agree to seek payment of their fees only  from the condemning authority. 

When do I receive payment?

If a quick take occurs, the  owner can generally receive the good faith estimate approximately six  weeks after the condemning authority deposits the funds funds in the  court registry.  Final payment will be received after a settlement is  reached or after the valuation trial. 

What happens to my business that is damaged in the condemnation process?

Under certain  circumstances, Florida business owners are entitled to compensation for  the losses which occur because of right-of-way takings. 

Business damages can arise  from lost parking, alterations to the interior traffic flow of a parking  lot and other factors.  Lost profit is not the sole measure of business  damages.  Florida courts have recognized that items such as diminished  volume of business, diminished goodwill, or reduced value of the  business equipment are also compensable.  While there are a number of  limitations on what can be recovered, business damaged in a condemnation  case can be substantial.  A business damage claim may be crucial to the  future well-being of your business.  A recent Florida Statute places  the responsibility upon the business owner to address the upcoming  acquisition in a much reduced time frame.  We believe it is particularly  important for business owners to obtain competent legal representation  at the earliest stages of the acquisition process.

Am I paid for moving and relocation expenses?

Any property owner  displaced by a federal or federally-assisted program will be offered  relocation assistance services for the purpose of locating a suitable  comparable replacement property that is safe, decent, and sanitary.   Relocation services are sometimes provided by local governments and  almost always by the state.  Programs such as purchase additives, rent  supplements, and down payment supplements are sometimes offered.  The  condemning authority may also reimburse the property owner for actual  reasonable expenses related to the search for a replacement property.

Who has the power of eminent domain?

The power of eminent domain  is primarily held by the federal government, state government,  counties, and cities. The legislature may also delegate the power of  eminent domain to certain non-governmental entities such as public  utilities. Private owners, such as residential neighbors, do not have  the power of eminent domain.

How is the power of eminent domain exercised?

A condemning authority may  exercise the power of eminent domain directly or indirectly. A  condemning authority directly exercises the power of eminent domain when  it files a law suit against a property or business owner. This type of  law suit is called an "eminent domain action." The property or business  owner is made a defendant to the law suit.

A condemning authority  indirectly exercises the power of eminent domain by taking property  without first filing a law suit. This type of taking can occur through a  physical use or invasion (such as flooding of the property) or through  the application of a regulation (such as the denial of economically  beneficial use of the property.) This type of taking is called an  "inverse condemnation action." The property or business owner is a  plaintiff in an inverse condemnation action and is suing the condemning  authority.

What is the general process of an eminent domain action?

In Florida, a condemning  authority may file one of two types of law suits, known as "eminent  domain actions:" a quick-take action or a slow-take action.

What is a "quick-take" eminent domain action?

A quick-take action is  almost always the type of eminent domain action filed. It usually  involves the taking of private property necessary for road construction  projects. A quick-take action is divided into two stages. In the first  stage, the condemning authority files a law suit and sets a hearing  known as an"order of taking" hearing. At the order of taking hearing,  the condemning authority must prove three things:

  1. •that the property is necessary,

  2. •for a public purpose and

  3. •that it has prepared a good faith estimate of value based on a valid appraisal report.


Once the judge enters the  order of taking, the condemning authority deposits the good faith  estimate of value into the court registry and becomes the owner of the  property. After the order of taking hearing, the second stage of the  quick-take action begins. In the second stage, a twelve-person jury  decides the amount of compensation to be paid the property or business  owner for the taking.

What is a "slow-take" eminent domain action?

A slow-take action is  rarely the type of eminent domain action filed. It may involve the  taking of private property necessary for parks or environmental  preservation. In a slow-take action, the condemning authority files a  law suit and a twelve-person jury decides the amount of compensation to  be paid. After the jury renders its decision, the condemning authority  chooses whether to acquire the property. If the condemning authority  chooses to acquire the property, it then deposits the amount of the  jury's decision into the court registry. If the condemning authority  chooses not to acquire the property, the judge dismisses the law suit.

What legal notices should I receive before an eminent domain action?

Florida law requires that  all condemning authorities send only business and property owners a  written notice before filing an eminent domain law suit.

What date is used to value the interest in the property taken?

The date used to value the  interest in the property taken is the date that title passes (in a  quick-take, this is the date of deposit of the condemning authority's  good faith estimate of value) or the date of trial (in a slow-take),  whichever occurs first.

What compensation is the interest in the property paid for the taking of its interest?

The document creating the  interest in the property may have a provision for eminent domain, called  a "condemnation clause." If there is no condemnation clause, Florida  law provides that the condemnation award is to be allocated between the  owner and interest. If there is a condemnation clause, the provision  will control whether the interest can recover for the taking of its  interest. If the interest in the property is entitled to compensation  for the taking, this compensation is usually be paid out of the money  recovered by the owner.

Can an owner challenge the taking of private property by eminent domain?

Yes. An owner can challenge  the taking of its private property by the power of eminent domain. If  the challenge is successful, the judge may dismiss the eminent domain  law suit.

Am I entitled to a copy of the condemning authority's appraisal report?

Yes. Upon request, the law  requires the condemning authority to provide you a copy of the appraisal  report for its good faith estimate of value.

Do I have to accept the condemning authority's offer?

No. You are entitled to obtain your own valuation prepared by experts retained on your behalf.