When Government Wants Your Property

November 22, 2013 – Condemnation (aka eminent domain) is the power of government to take private property for public use.  The process is largely summed up with two questions.  Is the taking for a proper public use?  If not, it shouldn’t occur.  If proper, what is the just compensation for the property taken?
Projects for public use are likely an appropriate exercise of condemnation powers and courts often give wide discretion to the government for those projects.  Condemnation for public-private ventures, to remove “blight”, or similar actions may not be appropriate.  Occasionally, a project that appears to be for public use, may be for private use and therefore inappropriate.  There can also be a “taking” of private property through noise, limiting access to property and similar actions.  Often, no compensation has been given so a claim for inverse condemnation may be necessary to obtain just compensation.
The amount of compensation is usually debatable.  Government agencies often hire consultants to negotiate the value of property.  They attempt to buy the property at the lowest price which may be drastically under the fair market value.  Offers may not take into account damage to the portion of property not taken by condemnation but which is impacted.  One tactic used by government to encourage acceptance of an offer is threatening litigation if the offer is not accepted.  However, litigation is often favorable to those impacted by condemnation, contrary to the usual negative aspects of litigation.  
State law may require the government to provide monies to review offers of compensation.  Failure of government to make a good faith offer under statutory parameters may result in reimbursement of attorney fees incurred to obtain the fair market value.  In some instances, the right to compensation may also extend to tenants and businesses affected by the condemnation.  When signing lease agreements, tenants and landlords should understand how a lease may limit or waive rights if a condemnation occurs. 
In rare instances, with specific and strict limitations, a private person may condemn an easement on another person’s property for necessary access to property and other statutorily allowed items.  Just compensation is required in those instances too. 
Condemnation is a powerful tool of government that benefits our community.  Because of that power, the laws governing it are strict and provide substantial rights to those affected.  An attorney can help insure those rights are not ignored.   
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Estate Planning Attorney Patrick Hanis

Ashley Eades joins Steven Bash as a legal assistant in the Estate Planning department.


November 18, 2013 – Ashley studies at the University of Washington and has been with Hanis Irvine Prothero since April 2012.  Steven studied at Highline Community College and has been with the Estate Planning Department for close to a year now.  If you need Estate Planning assistance, please contact Ashley or Steven at (253) 520-5000 to set up a consultation with Estate Planning Attorney Patrick Hanis.


Patrick Hanis offers assistance to homeowners wanting to participate in The Washington Foreclosure Fairness Act Homeowners Mediation Program.

This new program was created during the 2011 legislative session to provide homeowners foreclosure assistance. State law now requires most lenders to inform homeowners of the availability of foreclosure prevention counseling and the potential for mediation. Mediation is a process where a neutral mediator assists the Homeowner and the Lender to try and reach a fair, voluntary, and negotiated agreement. The Lender is required to have a person with authority available to resolve the matter. Patrick Hanis assists his clients in submitting for mediation, providing needed information, and negotiating with the Lender in order to try and reach a settlement with the Lender. A mediator is not a Judge, but does work to insure that the Lender is acting in good faith.

Foreclosure mediation programs have proven effective in reducing foreclosures. Homeowners are covered if they are in owner-occupied properties and have either: (1) received a Notice of Default on or before July 22, 2011, and their house has not yet been sold at foreclosure sale; or (2) homeowners who received the Notice of Pre-Foreclosure Options or Notice of Default and requested mediation before the Notice of Trustee Sale has been recorded. Once mediation is requested, the foreclosure process stops until mediation is completed. Foreclosure mediation can only be requested by a housing counselor or an attorney on behalf of a Homeowner. The time period to request mediation can be very short, so homeowners should not delay making the request if they are interested in this program.

Call attorney Patrick Hanis today and find out if this program can help you save your home.
Office: 253-520-5000 www.HIPLawfirm.com