Expropriation Law and Legal Definition

Expropriation is a taking of private property or rights by the government for just compensation when it is for a public purpose. It may be the exercise of eminent domain powers. The governmental entity may be a federal, state, county or city government, school district, hospital district or other agencies. The taking of property may be with or without the permission of the owner. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides that "private property [may not] be taken for public use without just compensation." The Fourteenth Amendment added the requirement of just compensation to state and local government takings. The expropriation process usually involves passage of a resolution by the acquiring agency to take the property (condemnation), including a declaration of public need, followed by an appraisal, an offer, and then negotiation. The owner who believes that just compensation is not being offered for the taking of their property may bring suit against the governmental agency. However, by depositing the amount of the offer in a trust account, the governemnt becomes owner while a trial is pending. Some of the public uses supporting expropriation include schools, streets and highways, parks, airports, dams, reservoirs, redevelopment, public housing, hospitals and public buildings.