2017 Virginia Eminent Domain Legislative Update

    By Mark A. Short, Eminent Domain

    In its 2017 session, the Virginia General Assembly adopted four bills providing greater protections to landowners in eminent domain proceedings. Effective July 1, 2017, these bills improve landowners’ rights by (i) increasing notice requirements in a “quick-take” proceeding, (ii) limiting the time in which condemnors must institute certain proceedings, (iii) allowing the judgment rate of interest for condemnation awards, and (iv) allowing reimbursement of costs where property has been damaged by inverse condemnation.

    Notice to Owner or Tenant in a ‘Quick-take’ Proceeding (HB 2024)

    Before HB 2024 was passed, the timing requirements for notice after a “quick-take” proceeding were minimal. HB2024 requires that in a “quick-take” proceeding, the Commissioner of Highways or other authorized condemnor must provide the landowner or tenant with notice “between 30 and 45 days prior to the date on which any certificate will be filed or recorded.” The bill also requires that “within four business days of the filing or recording of a certificate, the authorized condemnor” must provide “notice of such filing or recording to the owner or tenant, if known,” by registered or certified mail.

    Timing for Initiation of ‘Quick-take’ Condemnation Procedure for Just Compensation (SB 927)

    Cases should proceed more quickly with the passing of SB927. This bill amends the Virginia Code to require that condemnors institute quick-take proceedings within 180 days “of therecordation of the certificate.” This amendment improves the current law requiring condemnors to institute proceedings “any time after the recordation of the certificate, but within 60 days after the completion of the construction of the improvements upon the property described in the certificate.”

    SB 927 also allows landowners to petition the court “for determination of just compensation” within 180 “days after the condemnor has entered upon and taken possession of the property,” or 180 “days after the recordation of a certificate.”

    Interest on the Award (SB 1421)

    This bill represents a significant beneficial change for landowners as it substantially increases interest recoverable on an award in a condemnation proceeding. SB 1421 requires that if an award in a condemnation proceeding is “greater than that deposited with the court or represented by a certificate of deposit,” interest will “accrue on the excess amount at not less than the judgment rate of interest” (currently 6%). The former law required interest on the excess amount only at the general account’s primary liquidity portfolio rate compiled by the Virginia Department of Treasury for the month in which the award is rendered (often below 1%).

    Reimbursement of Owner’s Costs in an Inverse Condemnation Proceeding (SB 1153)

    SB 1153 amends the Virginia Code to require that landowners be reimbursed “forreasonable costs” and fees in an inverse condemnation proceeding for the damaging of property if judgment is entered on behalf of the landowner. This bill improves the ability of landowners to recover costs in inverse condemnation proceedings, as the previous law awarded costs and fees in inverse condemnation proceedings only “for the taking of property.”

    As a landowner, it is important that you understand all rights and remedies available to you in a condemnation or inverse condemnation proceeding and that you are well-equipped to vigorously assert them.

    The contents of this publication are intended for general information only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on specific facts and circumstances. Copyright 2023.