If you are reading this, you may be a property owner who is currently facing a governmental “taking” of your property. The government takes property by a formal process known as “condemnation.” Its power to take or condemn property is known as “eminent domain.”

You may have learned about the government’s designs on your property at a public meeting or through a notice you received in the mail. You may, by now, have received an “offer” for your property from the government. Wherever you may be in the process, this Handbook is for you. The more you know about the condemnation process, the more you can protect yourself and, in the end, obtain a fairer result.

As an initial matter, you may have been surprised to learn the government can take your property without your consent. Though the government is permitted to take private property for public use, the right to just compensation for such takings is protected by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Oregon. In addition, the U.S. Congress and Oregon legislature have adopted a number of statutory protections for property owners, including a property owner’s right to recover attorney fees, appraisal fees, and other expenses from the government in many cases. Armed with these constitutional and statutory protections, you can confidently pursue the just compensation you deserve.

This Handbook describes in a general manner the government’s power of eminent domain and property owners’ rights to just compensation under Oregon law. It is designed to educate property owners at a basic level. After reading this Handbook, you should have a better understanding of your rights and how to protect them from start to finish. This Handbook is not, however, intended to substitute for the advice of an experienced eminent domain attorney who can assess your particular circumstances and advise you on your specific rights. Each parcel of land is unique, and the law in this area is specialized and ever-changing.