Condemnation: Definition in Real Estate, Types, and Examples

About Condemnation:

The term condemnation refers to the legal acquisition of property by local governmental bodies, or, in some states, by other private entities. A municipality often condemns a piece of property, such as a home or commercial building, either temporarily or permanently because it may be deemed unsafe or hazardous.

A structure can also be condemned for acquisition under the legal doctrine of eminent domain. Owners have legal recourse to challenge the condemnation of their property or may receive fair market value (FMV) if they accept the terms.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:
  • Condemnation is the process a government or private entity uses to legally acquire property.
  • Condemnation may be used to enforce housing and safety codes for abandoned or dilapidated properties.
  • Authorities can condemn properties through eminent domain to seize property from their owners.
  • Eminent domain allows a property to be seized for public use such as highways, railways, airports, powerlines, and pipelines.
  • Owners may comply with condemnation orders or fight them in court.

Understanding Condemnation:

Condemnation is a real estate term that involves the process of legally acquiring a piece of property. This procedure can be executed by local governments and private entities. As noted above, the process aims to satisfy a specific need, such as a safety or health concern or another (public) purpose.

The process can be temporary until the conditions are addressed and improved. In other cases, they may be permanent, which means owners risk losing their properties under eminent domain. This happens when the government takes ownership or transfers ownership to a third party, followed by demolition and reconstruction.

Orders to condemn buildings are executed by local authorities if structures are deemed unsafe for residents and may pose a threat to surrounding structures.1 Others may be condemned if they are a nuisance to the area, such as those that are abandoned, dilapidated, or otherwise poorly maintained. Whether they are occupied or vacant, these buildings cannot be inhabited.

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