What is Jurisdictional Offer?
At the beginning of the eminent domain process, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (or other governmental agency taking your property), must attempt to negotiate with the landowner to purchase the land they seek to acquire. The Wisconsin DOT must provide the landowner with a copy of their appraisal valuing the property and a copy of a pamphlet detailing the landowner’s rights under Wisconsin law. In addition, any appraisal prepared by the landowner must be considered during the negotiation process.
If good faith negotiations fail, the first step in the eminent domain/condemnation process is the issuance of a jurisdictional offer. The jurisdictional offer is a notice sent by the Wisconsin DOT to the landowner. There are strict statutory requirements the Wisconsin DOT must include in the jurisdictional offer. The jurisdictional offer must include the amount of compensation offered for the property the DOT intends to take.
The landowner has 20 days from the completion of service of the jurisdictional offer to accept or reject the jurisdictional offer. If the landowner accepts the jurisdictional offer, the transfer of title must occur within 60 days. Thereafter, a certificate of compensation is recorded with the register of deeds.
If the landowner rejects the jurisdictional offer, the Wisconsin DOT may make an “award of damages.” After payment of the award has been made, the award of damages must be recorded in the county register of deeds office. Once the award of damages is recorded, the property passes in fee simple to the acquiring authority.
The jurisdictional offer is also relevant should the landowner appeal the amount of compensation they receive as a result of the land taking. Under Wisconsin eminent domain law, the landowner may usually recover all attorney’s fees and costs if the appeal results in a verdict or award that is at least 15% more than the jurisdictional offer.