People tend to place a lot of extrinsic value on the dwelling in which they live and call home. For some, the recent “van life” craze has created an entire community of individuals who call motorized vehicles home. However, most individuals still live in “normal” houses with a foundation, plumbing, pitched roof, and electricity provided by a large utility provider. Even when individuals place so much value into their home, can the government simply “take” a family’s house?
The reality is that the government can take your house and all the land around it if it is deemed necessary for a current project that the government has chosen to undertake for a “public purpose.” This is a tough fact, but that is why consulting an eminent domain attorney is so important. There might be a challenge that can be made against the government’s taking of your property.
A house, regardless of the extrinsic value placed on it by a family, is considered real property. Real property refers to the actual land (dirt, trees, grass, etc.) that someone owns. Since a house sits on real property and is part of the property, the government can “take” your house along with the rest of the property that it deems necessary for the project. There is certainly no special consideration given to landowners if they have a house on the property that is being taken.
The government can also take away from the value of your house without ever exercising eminent domain over it. However, there is a remedy for that. This type of lawsuit is called an “inverse condemnation” suit. This type of suit can benefit landowners whose property has not been “taken” through the government’s exercise of eminent domain. Rather, the landowner’s house and property values have been diminished by a government project done nearby which has diminished the value of the house and the surrounding property. The loss in your house and land’s value can be considered a taking and can be used as the basis for an inverse condemnation suit.