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Iowa Eminent Domain Laws

Iowa eminent domain laws can be found in subtitle 3, title 1 of Iowa code.  Pursuant to Iowa Code § 6A.1, the state may initiate proceedings for the condemnation of private property for public use.  The right to take private property for public use is conferred to counties, owners of land without a way to the land, owners of mineral lands, cemetery associations, subdistricts of soil and water conservation districts and  cities.  The condemnation proceedings may be initiated by the attorney general, county attorney or city attorney[i].  Before initiation of condemnation proceedings, the acquiring agency shall negotiate with the owner of the property to purchase the property.  A purchase offer made by an acquiring agency shall include provisions for payment to the owner of expenses, including relocation expenses.  The acquiring agency may make and the owner may accept a purchase offer from the acquiring agency that is an amount equal to 130% of the appraisal amount plus payment to the owner of expenses[ii].

The condemnation proceedings shall be instituted by a written application filed with the chief judge of the judicial district of the county in which the land sought to be condemned is located[iii].  the board of supervisors of a county shall annually appoint not less than 28 residents of the county to serve as members of the compensation commission[iv].  One-fourth of the persons appointed shall be owner-operators of agricultural property, one-fourth shall be owners of city property, one-fourth shall be licensed real estate salespersons or real estate brokers, and one-fourth shall be persons such as bankers, auctioneers, property managers, property appraisers, and persons responsible for making loans on property.  Pursuant to Iowa Code § 6B.8, the applicant or the owner of any land described in the application may at any time after the appointment of the commissioners, have the damages assessed by giving the other party thirty days’ notice in writing.  The notice shall specify the day and the hour when the compensation commission will meet, view the premises, and assess the damages.

Pursuant to Iowa Code § 6B.14, the commissioners shall assess the damages and file its written report with the sheriff.  At the request of the condemner or the condemnee, the commission shall divide the damages into parts to indicate the value of any dwelling, the value of the land and improvements other than a dwelling, and the value of any additional damages.  In determining the fair market value of property, the commissioners shall not consider the assessed value assigned to such property for purposes of property taxation only.  In assessing the damages the owner or tenant will sustain, the commissioners shall consider and make allowance for personal property which is damaged, destroyed, 0r reduced in value.  The owner shall be awarded a sum sufficient to remove such personal property from the land to be acquired.  However, damages shall not exceed $5,000 for each owner or tenant occupying land proposed to be condemned.  The appraisement of damages returned by the commissioners shall be final unless there is an appeal[v].

If the amount of damages awarded by the commissioners is decreased on appeal, the reduced amount shall be paid to the landowner.  If the amount of damages awarded by the commissioners is increased on appeal, interest shall be paid from the date of the condemnation[vi].  If on appeal, the damages awarded by the commissioners are increased, the condemner shall, if the condemner is already in possession of the property, make such additional deposit with the sheriff as will, with the deposit already made, equal the entire damages allowed.  If the condemner is not already in possession, the condemner shall deposit with the sheriff the entire damages awarded, before entering on, using, or controlling the premises[vii].

[i] Iowa Code § 6B.2.

[ii] Iowa Code § 6B.2B.

[iii] Iowa Code § 6B.3.

[iv] Iowa Code § 6B.4.

[v] Iowa Code § 6B.17.

[vi] Iowa Code § 6B.24.

[vii] Iowa Code § 6B.30.

Inside Iowa Eminent Domain Laws