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How you can defend an eminent domain action

How you can defend an eminent domain action

The activist group Castle Coalition gives Illinois a D+ rating when it comes to protecting property owners against eminent domain. That doesn’t mean there aren’t defenses available, as it is often possible to beat eminent domain with the help of an Illinois real estate attorney who specializes in eminent domain defense.

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How You Can Defend an Emminent Domain Action

How Eminent Domain Works

The agency interested in acquiring property will assess it to determine its value. Next, an offer will be made to the landowner, which may be accepted or rejected. If an agreement is not reached, the matter will be set for a public hearing. A complaint may also be filed in the local Circuit Court.


For the government to seize property, it must meet the requirements for public purpose or necessity. This means the land must provide some benefit to the public. Some examples include roads, schools, parks, or government agency use. These examples are not all-inclusive, but do represent the most common eminent domain actions.

The government is also limited to taking only the amount of property that is necessary. If a 50-foot strip of land were needed to widen a roadway, the government would be prohibited from taking more than that amount. When eminent domain involves less than the total parcel, it is known as a partial taking.

Possible Defenses

Landowners may question whether the taking would actually result in a benefit to the public. This defense is often used whenever a taking would primarily benefit a private business. They may also question the need for the proposed benefit by asserting that an additional school, park, or road-widening project actually isn’t needed.

In some instances, property owners may object to the amount of land being seized. The defense of necessity then comes into play, showing that the government is actually taking more land that what is needed to accomplish the public benefit.

Defenses against Poor Compensation

Aside from providing eminent domain defenses, a real estate attorney might also be helpful in negotiating a settlement. The government’s goal is to purchase property for as little money as possible, which often results in landowners receiving less than they deserve. Eminent domain lawyers typically work on a contingency basis, meaning they will work hard to ensure their clients receive just compensation.

Individuals faced with eminent domain action should assert their rights early. Those who do have the best odds of defending their property and/or obtaining a fair settlement.

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