inverse condemnation

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Inverse condemnation occurs when a government takes a property for public use that greatly damages the value of the plaintiff’s property. To successfully bring an action for inverse condemnation, the property owner must show that the a government’s taking has failed to promote substantial governmental interests or has deprived the owner of the economic value of one’s property.

A government that takes a private property for public use may be required to provide just compensation even when there is no physical invasion of property, such as in regulatory taking where a government permanently deprives the property owner of all beneficial uses of one’s property.

In California, the termination of lease that applies to all property acquired for public uses also includes inverse condemnation actions. Fair market value of the property is generally used to assess damages for inverse condemnation actions. When a plaintiff files for both eminent domain and inverse condemnation, a plaintiff may be entitled to claim separate damages when the inverse condemnation resulted in the reduction of the property’s value before an action for eminent domain. However, when a plaintiff fails to prove an invasion of property right, one cannot show a cause of action for inverse condemnation.  In Boxer v. City of Beverly Hills, for example, the court held that a loss of view by the government’s planting of trees did not constitute an invasion of property right and the possibility that the trees might catch fire was insufficient to constitute a cause of action for inverse condemnation.   

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]