When all is said and done and you’ve prepped your homestead to the best of your abilities, your worries are supposed to relate to keeping yourself and your family safe, as well as maintaining food, water and resources through various methods described in this website.
What you shouldn’t have to worry about—but ultimately do—is the sensitive subject of the United States government repossessing your land.
Is it possible to lose your land to government edict in the United States?
Yes, it is. County, state and federal U.S. government all have ways through which they can seize and own private property for later sale or other use. There are several legal methods by which the government can accomplish this, including tax seizure, eminent domain, and civil forfeiture and.
It is an ugly thing to consider that most people feel keenly in their gut. Your property is supposed to be yours, no one else’s. But as the saying goes there is always a bigger fish, and the government is definitely that bigger fish. To keep your property from looking like a tempting snack, keep reading.
Table of Contents
As it Turns Out, You Don’t Really Own Anything
Everyone wants to think that, at least in America, when you own something, you really own it. It’s yours.
Yours, and you decide when, or if, you are going to part with it. This notion is so woven into the concept of the United States that most folks never stop to question it.
The concept is that ownership of real property is what separates Americans from so many other places in the world.
A man’s home is his castle, and the surrounding lands his kingdom. It is quite the romantic notion. If only it were true…
Your land, your home, and everything else you think you own is in essence just leased to you by the government. The government is the real owner of all land in the United States.
They have been since America was founded. Don’t believe it? Uncle Sam takes private citizens’ land all the time, every day, whether by hook or by crook.
All it takes is you occupying land that is convenient or ideal for government purposes, or failing to pay something that the gubmint says you owe and they can take your property.
In the former case, they’ll at least have to make a show of paying you first. In the latter case, if you resist they’ll just send in armed goons to shoot you.
All you can do is hope to avoid such an unhappy fate. You might be able to fight it in court. Maybe you can stay in Uncle Sugar’s good graces. To do that, you need to know how they can take your property. Read the following to find out.
There are 10 predominant ways that the government could go about taking your land. We’re going to cover the following subject material listed below, including highlights of the fine print.
- Eminent Domain
- Surface Rights
- Air Rights
- Real Property
- Judicial Lien
- Civil Forfeiture
- Tax Seizure and Sale
- Mineral Rights
- Memorial Condemnation
At the end of this article, you’ll know the degrees in which you can protect your property from most government repossession methods, which would otherwise encroach on your rights as a home and landowner.
The right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation.Oxford Dictionary
To get a full comprehensive guide on the definition of Eminent Domain, view the video below:
Finally, the government can take your land through eminent domain. Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private property for public use.
The most common example of this is when the government seizes land to build a road or highway. They will generally offer you fair market value for your property, but you are not required to sell it to them.
If you don’t want to sell, the government can still take your property through eminent domain. They will just have to go through a longer legal process and prove that they are taking your property for a public use.
This usually happens when the government needs your land for something that is in the public interest, such as building a school or a hospital.
It’s the Fifth Amendment right for the government to seize property in its exercise of eminent domain, and our fourteenth amendment right to just compensation for their use of our land.
But in a SHTF scenario, it’s he who swings the bigger stick that claims the equivalent of the Fifth Amendment. We’re all aware of the possibility of strong factions banding together in unison, and no law is going to protect us from such an incident.
In the case of a post-collapse world, will the government still hold reign? You’d be foolish to think they’d fall to pieces.
If the dollar crashes, government agents, no matter what level, would side with the guys in charge of the military. Money loses value; protection becomes a hot commodity along from food and water.
An agency can come through and claim eminent domain in the case that your wind turbines, rainwater harvesters, and farms are all in good condition. For the benefit of the people, they may say, and what can you do but step aside?
Under the circumstances of a pickup full of gunned men arriving, you’d be smart to hand over your property with the declaration of your fourteenth amendment rights.
In the event that this happens prior to a fractured, end-of-the-world society, here’s what you can do to avoid them taking: deny them. In a court of law, your homestead may be seen as a resource more than a home.
Pipeline requests under the guise of eminent domain have been fought in the past for less; why shouldn’t you get your day in court with the government? It is arguably the best line of defense.
Note: If you are called upon in court to contest the actions of the government, be certain to consult a legal team of certified lawyers before continuing.
The set of rights associated with the surface of the land only, as differentiated from mineral rights. – mineralweb.com
To get a full comprehensive guide on the definition of Surface Rights, view the video below.
This is sort of a split on mineral rights, which we’ll learn about at the end of this little guide. Surface right pertain to everything above ground, which means the ground itself.
If somebody else owns the mineral rights to your land (subterranean minerals and resources) they would have to pass onto your land in order to acquire them. In this case, they would owe you, at the very least, constant contact and knowledge about what exactly was going on. In some cases, you can charge them to use your surface rights to access their mineral rights.
In The Beverly Hillbillies, Jed Clampett wouldn’t have made a dime if he didn’t possess both the surface rights and the mineral rights, as would have been declared on the deed.
It’s something of note; check the deed to your homestead to know what’s inclusive and what’s missing. You could be at risk for government land repossession under extreme circumstances.
Right to control, occupy, or use the vertical space (air space) above a property subject to necessary and reasonable use by neighbor(s) and others (such as aircrafts.) – businessdictionary.com
To get a full comprehensive guide on the definition of Air Rights, view the video below.
You own the air rights to your property; that is a given. Whatever the diameter of your actual property is, it extends to essentially infinity.
While you can’t charge United Airlines for using your airspace 30,000 feet above, you can be in the big money by leasing your air rights over your homestead. Let’s take an example that I had some personal experience in: the Massachusetts Turnpike.
When I was getting my real estate license, the instructor went into great detail about everything I’m covering in this article.
If you’re familiar with the Big Dig, you know that it was a series of tunnels built beneath Boston to help with the traffic. The air rights, despite the fact that they dug down, came into play. You own from your property to the core of the earth, too, all classified underneath the same set of rights.
They paid $200M. Air rights can be insanely expensive, and if the government seizes them for any purpose, under the fourteenth amendment, you would be a very rich man/woman. In a scenario like this, they could build on top of your real property, encroaching on your property in a most aggravating way.
In a case like this, I would reap compensation under the law and move to another homestead. Passive income, plenty of funding to prep an even better homestead.
All land, structures, firmly attached and integrated equipment, anything growing on the land, and all “interests” in the property which may be the right to future ownership… – legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com
Real property is not only the land itself, but also all entities physically attached to it. The home, for example, is attached to the foundation; the foundation is attached to the ground. It’s considered real property.
You may have heard a term, or read it somewhere when you bought your home, called Fee Simple. This states that you can leave your home, as defined by real property, to anyone you deem fit such as an heir or beneficiary, even if you’re still paying a mortgage to your bank.
In this principle, the property is yours outright. While it’s up for debate whether the government owns all banks or not, I’d like to see them pull a fast one on a third-party financial institution.
If your deed reads Fee Simple, gather the components of a will so there can be no dark attempts at stealing your land through nefarious means. By appointing a living heir, you’re protecting your property from being taken by the government.
One way the government can take your land is through a judicial lien.
This happens when you are served with a summons and complaint, or if you have knowledge of an impending lawsuit against you and don’t respond to the summons.
In essence, this puts a legal claim on your property to secure the potential judgment against you.
The government doesn’t always have to go through all of the trouble of suing you first, though. They can simply record a lien against your property.
This is often done in order to secure payment for some debt you may owe them. It gives them a legal claim to your property until the debt is paid in full.
If you are behind on your property taxes, for example, the government can record a lien against your property. This will give them priority over any other creditors you may have.
In other words, the government gets paid first, before anyone else. If you can’t pay, don’t worry! They will seize and sell your assets to help you pay! Hashtag land of the free…
The good news is that a lien is not a judgment and does not automatically mean you will lose your property. You still have the opportunity to contest it in court.
However, if you don’t contest it and the government does win a judgment against you, they can then foreclose on your property to enforce the judgment.
Another way the government can take your land is through civil forfeiture. This happens when the government seizes your property because they believe it was used in the commission of a crime.
They don’t have to convict or even charge you with a crime, they just have to believe that your property was involved in some criminal activity.
The most common example of this is when the police seize cash or property from someone during a drug raid. The same thing can happen to your home or other property on a larger scale.
Even if you are later found innocent of any crime, the government can still keep your property.
They don’t have to give it back to you. In fact, they often sell seized property at auction and use the proceeds to fund their operations. This includes the cost of waging the War on Drugs.
The War on Drugs has in fact very much been a massive piratical financing operation waged on Americans, at least in part. But hey, it was totally worth it getting those drugs off our streets, right? Right! Oh, wait…
As you can see, the government doesn’t really need a reason to take your land. They just have to find one that they can use in court. And before anyone says “But that’s the law!” remind me who writes the laws, and enforces them?
Tax Seizure and Sale
The government can also take your land through a tax seizure and sale. This happens when you fail to pay your property taxes.
The government will send you notices and give you some time to pay up, but eventually they will seize your property if you don’t. They will then sell it at auction in order to recoup the money you owe them, plus interest and fees.
If the government seizes your property for non-payment of taxes, you do have the right to redeem it. This means that you can pay the amount you owe, plus interest and fees, within a certain period of time and get your property back.
However, if you don’t redeem it within that time frame, the government can then sell it at auction.
This is the most egregious example of government seizure. You truly don’t own shit in America if you constantly have to pay fees in order to keep it. At the city, county, state or federal level, there is always some government entity trying to take more of your money through fees, fines, or taxes.
And if you don’t pay up, they will simply seize your property and sell it. So remember, the next time someone says “But America is a free country!” just laugh in their face. Because clearly, they have no idea how beholden we really are.
Referring to the ownership interest in minerals that are contained on or found under a particular parcel of land, irrespective of the ownership of the surface of the land. – thelaw.com
The United States is among the few countries that allow mineral rights in the first place. For the most part, every nation can claim gold and oil found six feet under your home.
Like I referenced earlier, if Jed lived in just about any other country, he’d still be another simpleton from the boonies with nothing to his name.
It’s laws like this that aid in capitalistic ideologies; anyone can be anything, especially if they strike it rich when trying to put in a custom hot tub three feet into the soil.
In order to best keep your mineral rights, whether it be for the purpose of excavating any precious metals or resources for your own point of sale, or leaving your land the way it is for future generations of your descendants to enjoy.
The choice is up to you, but if you notice there are valuable resources, contacting a lawyer about the whole ordeal should always be your first step.
Keep your home filthy to the point that sanitation is part of the question? Your home is prime for condemnation by the government.
It could possibly serve hidden interests, but the most likely case scenario would be that the state-level government would be the ones condemning your home.
If you’ve been at the mercy of notices beforehand, or inspectors, and you’re reading this because you’re uncertain how to get your home ready in time, I’d recommend a maid service.
Have them call in the big guns, and take a snow shovel to your belongings and fill up the dumpster. Losing your home to condemnation is the most embarrassing way that the government can take your land.
After the events of September 11, 2001, the federal government tried to purchase the land in Pennsylvania where Flight 93 went down.
It took three years for the deal to be reached, awarding the landowners $9.5 million dollars, but if this was the case, why did it take more than three years to come to an agreement? This is because “Memorial Condemnation” is the unofficial name given to incidents just like these.
The gentleman who owns the lake where the tank of Space Shuttle Columbia was found in 2011 could end up being forced to sell.
While it falls under the clause of eminent domain, and they have to provide compensation, there’s no laws protecting your from their scrutiny and tactics to force a sale.
That’s exactly what is believed to have happened with the Flight 93 space, and it’s not all that far-fetched. You can retain you land, but at the personal cost of your sanity.
For each type of claim, use the following below to refuse the government possession of your property.
- Eminent Domain – Deny their movement
- Surface Rights – Read over and amend your deed if applicable
- Air Rights – Be careful about how you exercise the ability to lease your air space
- Real Property – It’s tied down, it’s bolted down; it’s yours
- Mineral Rights – Seek assistance from a certified lawyer; this is the most common repo. Mineral rights are a right underneath any state in the United States of America. Whether or not they’re included in the deed is the question we’re trying to face.
- Condemnation – Fairly simple; keep your home up to above-par standards
- Memorial Condemnation – This is up in the air; not much can be done
These are all federal laws that all the states must follow. It is imperative you follow the federal laws that would prevent you from losing your property.
In the end, the government can take your land for any reason they want. They don’t need a reason, and they don’t have to ultimately follow the law- they are the law!
So remember, if you ever find yourself in a dispute with the government over your land, you’re going to be in for a long fight. Good luck!
My name is Teresa Fikes. I am a Homesteader, survivalist, prepper, historian, and writer plus much more all in one package deal. I was raised on a small family farm were I was taught at an early age to survive off the land without the help of modern conveniences. I am a writer by profession and a Homesteader by Blood, Sweat, and Tears.