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The city of Meriden CT has been threatening to raze a single…

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The city of Meriden CT...
The city of Meriden CT has been threatening to raze a single family home down by way of an emergency demolition order, claiming that the property is structurally unsound. The owner has filed a challenge in court in regard to the validity of that claim. Even though a hearing had been scheduled in Middletown and was still pending, the city went ahead with their plans for demolition. The owner was able to aquire a temporary injunction to stop their action, having it served by a state marshall minutes before the house was taken down. When the hearing took place the attorney for the city challenged the judge's jurisdiction, so he had the case transferred to the Meriden court. During that hearing, the attorney for the city stated that her client/clients had the right to tear down the house in the meantime without fear of being sued even if later the found in favor of the owner. Is that true?
Submitted: 5 months ago.Category: Real Estate Law
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Answered in 9 minutes by:
11/21/2017
Real Estate Lawyer: socrateaser, Lawyer replied 5 months ago
socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 39,766
Experience: Attorney and Real Estate broker -- Retired
Verified

Hello,

Ultimately, a government agency can "take" private property for any public purpose. Under this constitutional theory, the city could demolish the property and it would owe the property owner just compensation for the property taking. The exceptions to the above are:

1. If the property is genuinely a public health and safety hazard, and the cost of remediation is greater than the property value, then that would justify the city's demolition without paying any compensation.

2. The city's actions are actually intended to transfer the property to a private party. A "private taking" is a civil rights violation, and entitles the property owner to damages for violation of constitutional rights under federal law (42 U.S.C. 1983). This is an extremely difficult exception to prove against a government agency, but I'm mentioning it to be thorough.

For #1, above the property owner's defense is that by demolishing the property before there is an opportunity to determine the danger to the public and the cost of remediation, if the property is in fact a danger -- the city is "spoiling" the evidence that the court needs to make a final judgment in the case. For this reason, I would think that the court would impose a preliminary injunction until the danger and remediation costs can be ascertained.

Typically, a receiver is appointed to try to obtain the required inspections and cost estimates. This is not necessarily the best option for the property owner, because a receiver is expensive. Generally, it's better to try to settle with the city to have the court appoint an agreed-upon reputable independent construction firm and safety inspector to determine the danger and cost issues and to report back to the court.

I think that covers your question(s).

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Real Estate Lawyer: socrateaser, Lawyer replied 5 months ago

Hello again,

I see that you have reviewed my answer, but that you have not provided a rating. Do you need any further clarification concerning my answer, or is everything satisfactory?

If you need further clarification, concerning this matter, please feel free to ask. If not, I would greatly appreciate a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) – otherwise, Justanswer retains your entire payment, and I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf. Note: If you cannot find the rating button on your webpage, please just type in your rating in a response to this note, and customer service will apply the rating for you.

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