Owning a little slice of land is all part of the American Dream. United States citizens have the ability to purchase land and invest in real estate, but many do not realize that the governmental powers that be have the ability to take back that property by claiming eminent domain.
While the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the government's ability to use eminent domain to transfer ownership to another private citizen, the Florida state legislature made swift effort to ensure that Floridians were not victims of this seemingly unethical practice.
Eminent Domain and Kelo v. The City of New London
In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a woman — Susette Kelo — had to give up her waterfront home in Connecticut to the government on the grounds of eminent domain. While eminent domain has long been used by the government to assume land that can be put to use for a public project that will benefit the entire community, this case was monumental because it allowed the government to confiscate her land to sell it to another private citizen. According to the Miami Herald, that private citizen intended to use the valuable land and its waterfront views to create luxury high-rise condominiums and a premium hotel.
The condos and hotel, which would serve the nearby Pfizer headquarters, would generate significantly more in property taxes than the series of tiny cottages that dotted the shoreline at the time. Many claimed that the ruling was unfair, while business leaders and real estate developers approved of the decision.
Eminent domain protections in Florida
Recognizing the alarming precedent that could be set by the Supreme Court ruling, the Florida state legislature quickly got to work drafting legislation that would prevent similar situations from occurring in Florida. This is good news for Florida residents, as many own homes and property on land that has become significantly more valuable over the course of time.
The legislature passed a law that was quickly signed by then-Governor Jeb Bush that prohibited the government from selling land acquired through eminent domain to a private citizen who stood to earn a profit on the deal for at least 10 years. This law, which was then made into a state constitutional amendment, offered the greatest protections in the United States for eminent domain.
What to do if your property is being threatened for condemnation under Eminent Domain laws?
Perhaps you own a small oceanfront cottage in Florida, or maybe your family has had a sprawling estate for decades that someone is hoping to turn into a high-profit luxury development. The fact of the matter is, the government is constantly trying to use eminent domain to take away land from rightful homeowners in the hopes of generating more property taxes from other, higher-paying entities. If you are fearful that you may lose your property to eminent domain, then you need to contact an attorney who is experienced in eminent domain law today.
Set up a consultation appointment with one of our qualified attorneys, and we will work to protect your land and your rights as an American and as a Floridian.