POLICE POWER, EMINENT DOMAIN, TAXATION, & ESCHEAT | 4 GOVERNMENT POWERS

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While the right of freeholders appears to be unlimited, there at four government powers that can restrict a freehold estate holder's rights. These are Taxation, escheat, police power and eminent domain. 

Taxation

Taxation, as its name implies, is the right of the government to charge and collect property taxes from property owners. Property tax is described as a mandatory levy imposed on a property owner based on some attribute of the property, most commonly its market value.

Failure to pay taxes results in a tax lien, which is a government-imposed lien on a property to guarantee the payment of taxes. The government can use a tax lien to seal a property until the tax payment is made.

Taxation of landed property usually takes two forms:

1. General property tax: These are property taxes imposed by the central authority

2. Property rating: These are paid to local government coffer as an amount per naira of the dateable value of the property. 

Escheat

This is the government power that allows it to take ownership of a property that has no owner. It is the power of the government to take over the ownership of land when the property owner dies intestate or without ascertainable heirs.

The escheat allows a government to take over a land that is unclaimed by its owner or if the owner dies without an heir or will. 

Escheat ensures that a property always has a recognized owner  (the state) even when there the property owner dies without a will or any ascertainable heir.

 The process through which an escheat occurs is called escheatment

Police power

This is the state's power to regulate the use of a property for the betterment of the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the society. It includes all regulations and legislation dealing with the land use, zoning, building codes, bye-laws of development, traffic and sanitation.

Police power is not meant to take property from the owner. However, police power gives the government the right to damage or destroy property when it is in the best interest of society.

It is important to note that compensation is not paid to property owners affected by police power.

Eminent domain

This is the power of the government to seize private property with proper compensation but with or without the owner's consent.

Eminent domain is not new to our society, as the government frequently takes private property for public use such as roads and highways.

Compensation is the only legal proceeding for eminent domain, and the owner is expected to be compensated based on the market value of the property.

It is important to note that the property owner can file for inverse condemnation if the government takes the land without adequately compensating him. In other words, the owner has the right to sue the government or the public agency for appropriate compensation.

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