Eminent domain

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Eminent domain (United States), compulsory purchase (United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland), resumption/compulsory acquisition (Australia) or expropriation (South Africa and Canada) is an action of the state to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen's rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner's consent. The property is taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, economic development. The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are for public utilities, highways, and railroads[citation needed], however it may also be taken for reasons of public safety, such as in the case of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Some jurisdictions require that the government body offer to purchase the property before resorting to the use of eminent domain.

The term "condemnation" is used to describe the formal act of the exercise of the power of eminent domain to transfer title to the property from its private owner to the government. This use of the word should not be confused with its sense of a declaration that property is uninhabitable due to defects. The latter usually does not deprive the owners of the title to the property condemned but requires them to rectify the offending situation or have the government do it for the owner at the latter's expense.

Condemnation via eminent domain indicates the government is taking ownership of the property or a lesser interest in it, such as an easement. In most cases the only thing that remains to be decided when a condemnation action is filed is the amount of just compensation, although in some cases the right to take may be challenged by the property owner on the grounds that the attempted taking is not for a public use, or has not been authorized by the legislature, or because the condemnor has not followed the proper procedure required by law.

The exercise of eminent domain is not limited to real property. Governments may also condemn personal property, such as supplies for the military in wartime or franchises. Governments can even condemn intangible property such as contract rights, patents, trade secrets, and copyrights. Even professional sports teams may be seized by eminent domain.[1]

ED is an inherent attribute of sovereignty, and the Fifth Amendment's Taking or Just Compensation clause only impose limitations on its exercise; i.e., the taking must be for public use and just compensation must be paid. Some historians have suggested that these limitations on the taking power were inspired by the need to permit the army to secure mounts, fodder and provisions from local ranchers and the perceived need to assure them compensation for such takings. Similarly, soldiers forcibly sought housing in whatever homes were near their military assignments. To address the latter problem, the 3rd Amendment was enacted in 1791 as part of the US Constitution's Bill of Rights. It provided that the quartering of soldiers on private property could not take place in peacetime without the landowner's consent. It also required that, in wartime, established law had to be followed in housing troops on private property. Presumably, this would mandate "just compensation", a requirement for the exercise of eminent domain in general per the 4th Amendment to the Constitution [2] In addition, all US states have legislation specifying ED procedures within their respective territories.[3]

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