Condemnation (Eminent Domain): Overview

Condemnation or eminent domain proceedings can occur through the power of the government to take private property for public use without the owner’s consent. The ALTA title policies exclude from coverage any loss arising from “rights of eminent domain unless notice of the exercise thereof has been recorded in the public records at Date of Policy, but not excluding from coverage any taking which has occurred prior to Date of Policy which would be binding on the rights of a purchaser for value without knowledge.”


Where condemnation or eminent domain proceedings are pending — i.e., for purposes of creating or widening roads or streets — an exception should be made for such proceedings, provided notice of such proceedings is recorded in the public records or you have actual knowledge of same.


Where there exists a prior taking, an examination of the public records should disclose either:


1.  An Order of Taking granting possession to the government provided the requisite deposit of the estimated value of the property being taken has been paid within the statutory period, at which time a Receipt of Deposit  ;


2.  A Final Judgment condemning the property, based upon the filing of a petition for eminent domain in the circuit court records of the appropriate county, such judgment setting forth the statutory period in which the government must make deposit in an amount equal to the determined compensation for the taking as set forth in said judgment.


The estates and rights in the land may be taken by “Easement” or “Fee Simple”. If the decree recites that an easement is taken, title shall be shown subject to such easement. If the decree recites “Fee Simple”, and the proceedings are otherwise normal, such portion shall be excepted from the description of the land to be insured.