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How does spot blight eminent domain work?

Eminent domain is when the government takes the land of private property owners through a legal process. The owner receives a fair market value payment for the property, and the government can then use the property for the benefit of the public.

A special option under this process is spot blight eminent domain. This applies only to abandoned properties and requires certain formal steps.

Abandoned property listing requirement

For the government to even consider spot blight eminent domain, the property in question must be on the abandoned property list. Inclusion on this list requires notification to the owner and a waiting period to allow the owner to appeal the property’s status as abandoned. If this time passes without the owner appealing, the property officially becomes part of the list.

This list is for properties that are negatively affecting the community. Inclusion suggests that removal of the property would provide a benefit to the surrounding neighbors and increase property values in the immediate area.

Spot blight seizure

Spot blight eminent domain is similar to the typical eminent domain process. Once the government identifies the property as being on the abandoned property list, it can make an offer to purchase.

The government must pay fair market value. It must follow the procedure outlined in the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act to reach the fair market value. This process will take into consideration remediation costs and other expenses that will reduce what the property is worth.  If the end value is zero, then the government will not have to pay anything to the owner.

It is worth noting that New Jersey follows the quick take eminent domain process, which means the government can take ownership of a property prior to determining payment to the owner. Because of this, it can take under six months for the government to exert spot blight eminent domain.

If you have received notification that your property is on the abandoned list, you will want to take quick action to avoid spot blight eminent domain.