Serving New Jersey Clients Since 1977

How eminent domain works in New Jersey

Eminent domain allows the government to acquire private property for public use in New Jersey. Understanding this process may help property owners navigate their rights and responsibilities.

Government’s authority

The government can use eminent domain to take private property for public projects such as highways, schools, or parks as a land use procedure. This power extends to state and local governments and certain public utilities. The government must demonstrate that the property acquisition serves a legitimate public purpose.

Notification and appraisal

The eminent domain process begins with the government notifying the property owner of its intent to acquire the property. An appraisal follows, where an independent appraiser evaluates the property’s fair market value and follows the protocols of the state’s Real Estate Appraisers Act. This appraisal determines the compensation offered to the property owner.

Compensation offer

The government must provide just compensation for the property. Just compensation typically reflects the property’s fair market value, considering factors such as location, current use, and comparable property sales. Property owners can negotiate if they believe the offer does not reflect the property’s true value.

Legal proceedings

If negotiations fail, the government can file a condemnation lawsuit. The court then decides whether the government’s use of eminent domain is valid and determines the fair compensation. Property owners have the right to present evidence and argue for higher compensation during these proceedings.

Relocation assistance

In some cases, property owners may receive relocation assistance. This assistance helps cover moving costs and other expenses associated with relocating to a new property.

Navigating eminent domain

Eminent domain in New Jersey involves a structured legal process designed to balance the needs of public projects with the rights of property owners. Understanding your rights and the steps involved can help you navigate the complexities of eminent domain.