Inverse condemnation occurs when the government has damaged or seized private property for public purposes without formal eminent domain proceedings. In this situation, the property owner can initiate the inverse condemnation lawsuit to recover just compensation for the taking of the property.

What Constitutes a Taking?

A taking  of a piece of real property occurs when the government denies all practical uses of part or all of a parcel of private real property. The government may deny all practical uses of private real property by:

  • Physically occupying or damaging part or all of the property
  • Imposing regulatory restrictions on the uses of property that do not serve a legitimate purpose
  • Imposing regulatory restrictions on the uses of property that serve a legitimate purpose but which are not narrowly tailored
  • Imposing regulatory restrictions on the use of property that deprive the owner of all economic uses of the property

Can the Government Limit the Use of Property Through Regulation?

Yes, the government has the right to limit the use of property through regulations as long as the regulations are for a public purpose. Zoning, planning, and land use regulations are legal and do not constitute a governmental taking unless the regulation deprives the landowner of all economic uses of the property, such as enacting regulations that prevent the landowner from constructing or maintaining any structures on the property.

What Must Be Proved in an Inverse Condemnation Action?

To recover on the grounds of inverse condemnation, the plaintiff must prove that:

  • The property was taken or damaged;
  • Plaintiff has an economic interest in the property;
  • The government planned, approved, constructed, or substantially participated in a project or activity for public benefit involving the property; and
  • The government’s activity was a substantial cause of the taking of or damage to the property.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Sue for Inverse Condemnation?

Inverse condemnation is a very complex area of law with the rules varying in each jurisdiction. An experienced real estate lawyer can help you understand how the law affects your case. A real property lawyer can also file any necessary paperwork and represent you in court.