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Condemnation Process Overview - Property Owner
Notice to Owner
The condemning authority must notify property owners in writing, by certified mail of their intent to take all or part of your property for public use. The notice must provide reasonable information that would provide adequate time and opportunity to respond.
The condemning authority must determine the value of your property for the purpose of making an initial offer. The condemning authority hires an appraiser and other experts for an onsite property inspection. Once the site inspection has been conducted, the appraiser will prepare an appraisal report and provide it to the condemning authority for an in-house review.
The condemning authority will review the appraisal report and may recommend revisions, or modifications. Once the appraisal is finalized and approved, it will be used as a basis for determining a value for your property. Once a value is determined, a written initial offer for your property will be sent to you via certified mail.
Florida law entitles the property owner to hire their own appraiser and the condemning authority is required to pay the associated costs. Accordingly, we retain an independent appraiser on your behalf rather than accepting the valuation determined by the condemning authority. In addition, in appropriate circumstances, we hire other experts (engineer, land planner, accountant etc..) to review the project, suggest changes to minimize adverse impacts and to assist the appraiser in determining damages.
Once we have determined a value for your property by utilizing our experts, appropriate negotiations may begin. In an effort to settle the case and prevent the need to file a lawsuit, counteroffers and final offers may take place with the condemning authority.
The condemning authority must wait at least 30 days after you have received your initial offer package before filing an eminent domain taking of the property. Once a lawsuit is filed with the circuit court, you or your attorney will be served with a Petition for Eminent Domain and a Notice of the Order of Taking Hearing.
Order of Taking Hearing
At the Order of Taking Hearing, the condemning authority will ask for title to your property and they are required to make a deposit into the Clerk's Registry for an amount that is at least equal to the most recent property appraisal (good faith estimate). At the hearing, the condemning authority must prove to the judge that the project is for a public purpose and that the taking of your property is necessary for the project. If the judge authorizes the taking and the condemning authority deposits its good faith estimate of value within 20 days to the court registry, the court will enter the Order of Taking and title to the property will be transferred to the condemning authority.
Withdrawal of Funds
The property owner is entitled to withdraw the funds deposited by the condemning authority without prejudice to seeking additional compensation. Your attorney will file a Motion to Withdraw Funds at the Order of Taking Hearing so that the initial deposit can be disbursed.
Mediation is mandatory in Florida for eminent domain cases prior to trial. Mediation is a formal settlement negotiation led by a neutral, third-party attorney (mediator), who earnestly discusses with both the property owner and the condemning authority the pros and cons of their cases. The mediator helps the parties discuss and try to reach a settlement agreement. If a settlement is not reached and an impasse is declared by the mediator, the case will be set for trial.
If mediation does not resolve the matter, the property owner and condemning authority go to a 12 member jury trial. The jurors will be charged with determining the final value awarded to the property owner and the judge will enter a Final Judgment awarding the final settlement funds.