Inverse Condemnation Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Inverse Condemnation, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Inverse Condemnation?

It is a term used in the law of Property where the Government has made such a strict rules and regulation for ones property that it is practically not useable for any reasonable use. The onwer of such property has the right to claim compansation from the government.

History and Meaning of Inverse Condemnation

Inverse condemnation refers to a legal doctrine that allows a property owner to recover compensation from the government when there has been a taking of their property without actual physical transfer, but rather from the imposition of regulations or other governmental acts. For example, a property owner may bring an inverse condemnation action against the government where there has been a regulatory taking such as a zoning law that leaves their property without any economically viable use.

The concept of inverse condemnation dates back to early common law, in which an individual was entitled to compensation if their land was taken for public use without just compensation. The doctrine was subsequently expanded to include situations where land was effectively taken through regulation rather than outright acquisition.

Examples of Inverse Condemnation

  1. A state enacts strict environmental regulations that render a property useless for its intended purpose. The owner may sue the government for inverse condemnation.

  2. A city bans all commercial development within a particular zone, severely limiting the value of a property within that zone. The property owner may bring an inverse condemnation claim against the city.

  3. A town's redevelopment plan calls for the taking of private property and specifically targets a certain community, threatening to displace the owners. The owners may sue the government for inverse condemnation.

Legal Terms Similar to Inverse Condemnation

  1. Takings Clause: A provision of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution that requires the government to provide just compensation when it takes private property for public use.

  2. Regulatory Taking: A situation where government regulation effectively takes private property, entitling the owner to compensation.

  3. Eminent Domain: The power of the government to take private property for public use, with just compensation.