Your land is your land, once you have paid off any outstanding debts on it, such as a mortgage. That is the basic premise everyone assumes when investing in property. It’s yours until you either decide to sell, give it away or die.
But, it turns out that is not quite how it works. If the local or federal government wants that piece of land, they can potentially take it whether you like it or not. All they have to do is exercise their right to buy it under eminent domain law.
There are some restrictions
The government cannot buy you out because it doesn’t like you living in a specific area. It can’t force you to sell because an agent of the government thinks your land would be perfect for their dream mansion. It needs a valid reason that is in the public interest. For example, to run a new rail line or to build an urgently needed hospital or school.
That gives you some grounds for challenge
You can challenge why the government needs to take your particular plot and can’t just run the line a few hundred yards outside your boundary. Or why it can’t site a hospital or school on another piece of land. Or, why the government needs all your land and can’t just take a smaller piece.
You can also potentially challenge the price offered. While governments cannot be seen to overpay for land, they should be paying you a fair price. You may disagree with the price they offer and push for more. You can even challenge the whole project. Does your area really need another project of this type, or is it just being built to assuage someone’s ego, or to put money into someone’s pockets?
Going up against the government won’t be easy, but each year many landowners succeed in getting some kind of favorable result when responding to such action. Learning more is the first step if you face an eminent domain order, so seeking legal guidance is likely a good idea.