The past two decades have seen tremendous growth in the metro Atlanta area and the surrounding regions in the state of Georgia. That tremendous growth has also presented quite a number of complicated real estate and land use challenges. As a result, condemnations and eminent domain cases in Georgia have increased in proportion to the overall growth in the state. The attorneys at Hecht Walker, P.C. in Atlanta are substantially experienced in condemnation and eminent domain cases, representing clients in their mission to arrive at a favorable settlement and resolution.

Simply stated, condemnation is the legal process of the government or one of its agencies stepping in to exercise eminent domain in order to acquire a private property and to provide it for public use. Eminent domain law is quite complex, which is why it’s so important to be represented by a lawyer who is ready to fight for justice on your behalf.

The condemnation process includes the government offering proof of a public need and offering an initial purchase figure which may or may not be negotiated. If the offer is refused and if the negotiations are unsuccessful, the condemnation process then begins. This process can involve the state or federal government.

An experienced Atlanta condemnations attorney can not only guide you through the confusion, but the right attorney can legally challenge a condemnation – and negotiate fair compensation on a client’s behalf when a challenge is unsuccessful. In many cases, we are successful in minimizing damages, while bringing about a fair resolution. At Hecht Walker, P.C., our seasoned team of attorneys and support staff offer years of experience in real estate valuation matters, and while a successful, negotiated out-of-court resolution is always preferable, we stand ready to litigate condemnations on behalf of our clients.

When are properties in Georgia condemned?

In the state of Georgia, properties can be condemned for quite a number of reasons. If the state believes that a property poses a threat to the health and safety of the public, then the state has the right to condemn the property. However, condemnation is most common in cases where the government claims that it needs to use a property for public purposes, such as the construction of a highway or the development of a public facility. In all condemnation cases, the state is required to compensate a property owner fairly and adequately, thereby avoiding damages (in theory.)

What Georgia laws govern the condemnation of private property?

State laws in Georgia govern both eminent domain and the property condemnation process as a whole. Every state has slightly different laws regarding eminent domain and the condemnation process. By law, a number of government agencies in the state of Georgia may exercise the power of eminent domain when and where they believe it is appropriate.

Atlanta Condemnations Attorney

What is a “pre-condemnation notice” in Georgia?

In 2006, House Bill 1313 became law in Georgia. That legislation brought significant changes in eminent domain considerations. One of the biggest changes was that the organization initiating the condemnation action, whether a government agency or a non-government entity, is required to provide a memorialized notification before any condemnation petitions are filed with the courts. Furthermore, a Notice of Land Owner Rights must also be included and must explain a property owner’s rights, including the owner’s rights to the appeal process.

Why would the state condemn my property?

The state of Georgia may apply eminent domain for quite a number of reasons. In some cases, the state may believe that a property poses a public health or public safety risk. Another qualifying reason is if a utility provider needs the property for expansion or for service lines. Also, civil engineers may determine that a road must be built according to certain specifications, even if that includes an intrusion onto a private property.

How is a condemnation challenged in Georgia?

In this state, putting a stop to the condemnation process isn’t easy – in fact, it’s quite a challenge. There are many reasons why a condemnation may be disputed, and there’s a legal process that must be followed. The Georgia laws that govern the process of condemnation are strict and precise, and any failure to adhere to those laws can leave a government agency open to a challenge from the property owner. If you need to challenge a condemnation of your property, speak at once with an experienced Atlanta condemnations attorney at Hecht Walker, P.C. Some of the reasons a condemnation may be legally challenged in Georgia include:

  • failure to use the property for public purposes
  • loss of one’s business and future income
  • unfair compensation based on an inaccurate property assessment
  • failure of government agencies or other authorities to follow the proper legal procedures

How is property value determined in a condemnation process? Who makes the decision?

If a government agency in the state of Georgia takes legal steps to seize a property through condemnation, the law requires fair compensation to be provided to the owner. Both the current market value and the potential value of the property will be taken into consideration. A certified property appraiser is most likely the person who will determine the value of a property. When a condemnation is challenged, more than one appraisal may be offered.

While certified property appraisers are obligated to follow the guidelines spelled out by the real estate codes, other factors can result in different evaluations. Those factors may include property improvements, additional structures, and the various opinions regarding how the property may best be used.

If my property is condemned, does that mean that the state of Georgia will destroy it?

Not necessarily, although many condemned properties eventually do end up razed. Properties are destroyed for a number of different reasons which may include health and safety or a need to clear an area for paving. Concerned property owners should work with an experienced Atlanta condemnations attorney at Hecht Walker, P.C. An attorney can make the necessary inquiries to determine what the government plans to do.

Am I entitled to receive a notice before the government can take my property?

It’s a misconception that property owners are not notified before their property is seized. By law, you must be notified of a planned condemnation and of every court hearing concerning your property prior to and throughout the condemnation process. If the government wishes to take your property through condemnation, you should be compensated – not for the current value of your property, but for its greatest possible value. The experienced condemnation attorneys at Hecht Walker, P.C. are considerably experienced at determining a property’s greatest value and acquiring the maximum possible compensation for property owners.


This information was posted on 08-31-2016 and does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. The law changes on a daily basis, and the reader should engage an attorney through a written agreement before taking action in this area of the law.