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Under the Florida Constitution, a condemning authority (e.g., a governmental entity, like the Florida Department of Transportation) must pay “full compensation” to a property owner when forcibly acquiring property via eminent domain.  See Art. X, §6(a), Fla. Const.

In Florida, “full compensation” includes both the value of the property taken by the condemning authority and the devaluation to any remainder property caused by the taking.  See Florida Department of Transportation v. Armadillo Partners, Inc., 849 So.2d 279, 283 (Fla. 2003) (“Full compensation for the taking of private property by eminent domain includes both the value of the portion being appropriated and any damage to the remainder caused by the taking.”) (internal citations omitted).

This devaluation to remainder property is called “severance damages”, and these damages can occur when a condemning authority takes part, but not all, of a piece of property via eminent domain.  Armadillo Partners, Inc., 849 So.2d at 283 (“The damage to the remainder caused by the taking is also referred to as severance damages, damage caused by severing a part from the whole”).

This blog entry discusses severance damages caused by alterations in shape.

Alterations in the shape can lessen the value of remainder property, causing compensable severance damages under Florida eminent domain law.  Florida Eminent Domain Practice and Procedure §11.8 (2012) (listing change in shape as the basis for a severance damage claim in Florida).

A classic example of severance damages caused by an alteration in shape arises when a square or rectangular piece of property becomes a triangle due to an eminent domain taking of a portion, but not all, of a piece of property.

Professional real estate appraisers working with the Florida eminent domain law firm of Fixel & Willis have studied many examples of properties that have undergone alterations of all shapes and sizes and have determined that triangulated pieces of property often sell for less than otherwise comparable properties that are squares or rectangles.  Armed with this evidence, Fixel & Willis’s attorneys have negotiated many significant settlements that provide severance damages to property owners whose property becomes trinagulated because of an eminent domain taking.

If you have a question or concern regarding whether the taking of a part of your property may cause severance damages to remainder property or if you have any other questions regarding Florida eminent domain law, please contact Fixel & Willis’s firm administrator, Susie Harris, by email at sharris@floridaeminentdomainattorneys.com, or toll free at 1-800-848-7535.