New Hampshire Eminent Domain Laws
New Hampshire Eminent Domain Laws can be found in Chapter 498 A of New Hampshire Revised Statutes. RSA 498-A:1 provides that the intent of the Eminent Domain Procedure Act is to provide a complete and exclusive procedure to govern all condemnations of property for public uses including the review of necessity, public uses, net-public benefit, and the assessment of damages.
However, the enactment is not intended to enlarge or diminish the power of condemnation given by law to any condemnor and it is not intended to enlarge or diminish the rights given by law to any condemnee to challenge the necessity, public uses, and net-public benefit for any condemnation[i].
The preliminary steps to initiating action are provided in RSA 498-A:4. At the initial contact with a property owner, the condemnor should provide to the condemnee information regarding acquisition and relocation. Such information should include a disclosure, conspicuously located, which states that the condemnor does not represent the rights of the condemnee and that the condemnee may want to obtain independent advice or unbiased counsel.
Further, the condemnor should have an impartial qualified appraiser make at least one appraisal of all property proposed to be acquired. The appraiser should make reasonable efforts to confer with the condemnees or their personal representatives.
Also, condemnees who are the subject of a property acquisition should have a reasonable opportunity to have their property appraised by an independent qualified appraiser employed by the condemnees.
Within ten days of receipt of a notice of offer, a municipal condemnee should furnish the condemnor with the estimated amount of unpaid taxes, fees, and interest for which notice has not been recorded at the registry of deeds for the county in which the property is located.
No property should be taken unless the condemnor serves upon the condemnee a written notice of offer to purchase[ii]. If the offer is accepted, the transfer of title should be accomplished within thirty days after acceptance, including payment of the considerations set forth in the offer or as agreed upon between the parties, unless such time is extended by mutual written consent by the condemnor and condemnee.
Condemnation should be effected only by the filing in the board of a declaration of taking with sufficient copies for giving notice[iii]. The declaration of taking should be in writing and executed by the condemnor and should be captioned as a proceeding in rem.
The condemnor, upon filing its declaration of taking, should, within 48 hours thereof, record a notice of such filing in the office of the registry of deeds of the county in which the property is located[iv]. If the property is located in two or more counties, the notice should be recorded in all such counties.
The condemnor, after the filing of the declaration of taking, is entitled to possession or right of entry upon deposit with the board of the amount of just compensation as estimated by the condemnor and interest should not accrue thereafter on such sum, but shall only accrue on the amount of final award or judgment in excess[v].
Any party, condemnee, or condemnor aggrieved by the amount of compensation awarded by the board may, within twenty days after the filing of the report of the board, and not afterwards, file in the superior court a petition to have the damages reassessed, and the court should assess the damages and award costs to the prevailing party[vi].
[i] RSA 498-A:1.
[ii] RSA 498-A:4.
[iii] RSA 498-A:5.
[iv] RSA 498-A:7.
[v] RSA 498-A:11.
[vi] RSA 498-A:27.