Constructive taking is a term used in property law to refer to actions that amount to depriving an owner of the use and enjoyment of his/her property. The legal term “takings” refers to the physical acquisition of private property by governmental bodies. It also applies when government regulation removes all economically viable use of private property in what the courts describe as a “regulatory” or “constructive” taking. The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that private property cannot be taken for public use unless there is just compensation.
A constructive taking falls short of physical seizure or possession. It is a legal fiction, based on fairness principles, to apply to a situation that is tantamount to physical deprivation of possession. For example, a zoning regulation that deprives the land owner of the economic value of the property might be challenged as a constructive taking.