Inverse condemnation is any interference with private property that destroys the property and lessens its value of the property or denies the property owner of its use even if he or she possesses the title and possession of the property. This also occurs when property rights are taken without just compensation, or when the property value is taken by the government despite the government having made no formal attempt to exercise its domain power.
Inverse Condemnation in Maryland
In Maryland, property owners have the right to sue for inverse condemnation when a certain action of the government affects the value of that property in a negative way, such as causing a loss of property value. However, the loss of property value needs to be significant enough to be counted as a “taking” from the property owner.
Here are some examples of what an inverse condemnation case might look like:
1. Environmental Damages
Due to a recent case, the Maryland Court of Appeals has recognized that inaction of the government by the Department of Environment, which allowed lake contamination due to a damaged septic system, gives affected property owners the right to sue for inverse condemnation.
2. Diminution of Access
When government action causes customers to have difficulty in entering a property which causes businesses to lose profit, the business owner may sue the liable party for inverse condemnation.
Example: If a restaurant owner loses profit due to a government action building an amusement park in the place where his or her customers usually park, the owner could file a claim for inverse condemnation. Although in some cases, the business owner needs to have proof that the government activity did cause the loss of business property.
3. Severance Damages
A government entity should not take any more than it needs for public purpose when taking property through eminent domain. Subsequent government activity and partitioning on the taken property may cause damage to the remaining parcel of property. If a property owner wants to get the full compensation, he or she needs to file an inverse condemnation.
4. Regulatory Taking
A government’s rules and regulations can change over time, which is why such changes, especially in environmental rules or policies, make it complicated for businesses to carry on its operations on a particular property. In such cases, the property owner can sue for inverse condemnation to force the government to condemn the property.
Jack Sturgill has supported the diverse legal needs of individuals, businesses, and government entities across Maryland. If government action or negligent inaction has substantially damaged your property, he is prepared to help. Contact our office at (410) 296-6485.