Inverse Condemnation in California: A Guide for Property Owners
Did the government or government entity cause significant damage to your property? If so, you may be entitled to claim financial compensation through a legal doctrine known as inverse condemnation. At Winton Strauss Law Group, P.C., we want to make sure that all residential property owners and commercial property owners understand their rights under the law. Here, our Novato real estate lawyers provide an overview of inverse condemnation claims in California.
Inverse Condemnation in California: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Inverse Condemnation?
Through the legal doctrine of inverse condemnation, a private party can seek financial relief for damages to their property that was caused by public use. As the Supreme Court of California noted in the case of Belair v. Riverside County Flood Control Dist, the primary purpose of the legal doctrine of inverse condemnation is to “distribute throughout the community the loss inflicted upon the individual.”
In other words, a government agency may be held legally liable for actions—or, in some cases, inactions—that undermine the value of a private person or private company’s property rights. While inverse condemnation is not limited to California, our state has some of the most advanced and well-developed laws in the entire country.
Is Inverse Condemnation the Same Thing as Eminent Domain?
No. Although the two concepts are somewhat related, there are important differences between inverse condemnation and eminent domain. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution contains the ‘Takings Clause’—it allows the government to acquire/use private property for certain public uses, but also guarantees fair market value compensation to the affected party. Both types of proceedings arise out of the Fifth Amendment.
With an eminent domain case, the government initiates the issue. It seeks to get property or the right to use property from a private party. Federal and state government entities have broad, but not unlimited, power to acquire property through eminent domain. In contrast, with an inverse condemnation claim, the lawsuit is initiated by the private property owner. The individual seeks fair compensation for damage that they allege that the government already caused without any formal legal process.
When Should I Hire an Attorney in an Inverse Condemnation Case?
You should consult with an experienced real estate attorney as soon as possible if you are considering bringing an inverse condemnation lawsuit. Inverse condemnation proceedings are extremely complex. It is a highly technical and specialized area of California real estate law. If you are not sure where to start, you are not alone. Further, there are strict deadlines for taking legal action.
A lawyer will be able to comprehensively review your case, explain your options, and help you take the appropriate legal action to protect your property rights and get fair financial compensation for any damage. Notably, your legal costs may be covered. Under California law (Code of Civil Procedure § 1036), a property owner may be entitled to obtain full legal costs and reasonable attorneys’ as part of an inverse condemnation claim.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Novato, CA Real Estate Lawyer
At Winton Strauss Law Group, P.C., our California real estate lawyers dedicate our practice to providing practical and effective guidance to our clients. If you have any questions or concerns about inverse condemnation and your property rights, we are more than happy to assist. Contact us now for a strictly confidential initial legal consultation. With legal offices in Novato, Nevada City, and Auburn, we handle inverse condemnation cases throughout the wider region including in Marin County, Placer County, Nevada County, Napa County, Lake County, and Yolo County.