Legal Blog

What’s in a Take? Five Facts on Eminent Domain Law

Eminent Domain law is governed by the United States Constitution. The Fifth Amendment provides that “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” In Virginia, Article I, Section 11 of the state Constitution similarly allows for just compensation while providing additional rights. Check out the following facts on Eminent Domain:

  1. In every Eminent Domain case, the landowner will be provided with a “bona fide offer” for just compensation, based on appraisal principles.
  2. If the landowner and government cannot agree on just compensation, the issue is litigated. In Virginia, a jury or set of commissioners is seated to hear the sole question of how much just compensation is due. Therefore, unlike most litigation, there will always be some form of “award” paid to the landowner (i.e.: no one walks away empty handed).
  3. In Virginia, the landowner has the right to “draw down” on the bona fide offer amount (which is kept with the court on deposit) as soon as the Certificate of Take is filed. If the amount awarded at trial is less than the Certificate amount, the landowner must pay back the excess funds.
  4. Virginia, unlike the federal constitution and many states, affords landowners the right to be compensated for loss of access and lost profits associated with an eminent domain proceeding. These rights are articulated in the Constitution and further detailed in the Virginia Code/case law.
  5. Land can only be acquired via eminent domain if it is for a public purpose. The expansion of highways, building of schools, and development of railroads have routinely been held to be meet the public purpose requirement.

If you have a potential concern about land and eminent domain, it is best to reach out to counsel at an early stage. Feel free to email or call me with any questions regarding a current or potential take/project.


If you have any questions about this or any other Real Estate topics, please contact me at or 703-745-1849



Theodora Stringham assists individuals, businesses, and organizations with growing successfully while minimizing liability. Focusing on real estate and personnel needs, Ms. Stringham executes sustainable plans for real estate development and employee matters. She provides comprehensive representation for everyday growth issues, including, but not limited to, re-zonings, site plan approvals, eminent domain/valuation concerns, employment discrimination, and disciplinary issues. Ms. Stringham’s scope of representation ranges from identifying potential liability and providing counseling/trainings, all the way through representation at trial.






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