Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 25.1. Eminent Domain
Chapter 2. Condemnation Procedures

§ 25.1-203. Authority of certain condemnors to inspect property; reimbursement for damages; notice prior to entry.

A. In connection with any project wherein the power of eminent domain may be exercised, any locality or any petitioner exercising the procedure set forth in Chapter 3 (§ 25.1-300 et seq.), acting through its duly authorized officers, agents or employees, may enter upon any property without the written permission of its owner if the petitioner has requested the owner's permission to inspect the property as provided in subsection B.

B. 1. A request for permission to inspect shall (i) be on the petitioner's official letterhead and signed by an authorized officer, agent, or employee of such entity; (ii) be sent to the owner by certified mail, return receipt requested, delivered by guaranteed overnight courier, or otherwise delivered to the owner in person with proof of delivery; (iii) be made not less than 30 days prior to the first date of the proposed inspection; and (iv) notify the owner that if permission is withheld, the petitioner shall be permitted to enter the property on the date of the proposed inspection. A mere citation of this section number of the Code of Virginia shall not satisfy the requirements of clause (iv). A request for permission to inspect shall be deemed to be made on the date of mailing, if mailed, or otherwise on the date of delivery.

2. A request for permission to inspect shall include (i) the specific date or dates such inspection is proposed to be made; (ii) the name of the entity entering the property; (iii) the number of persons for whom permission is sought; (iv) the purpose for which entry is made; and (v) the testing, appraisals, or examinations to be performed and other actions to be taken.

3. If a request for permission is provided in accordance with subdivision 1, a petitioner may enter the property sooner than the 30 days indicated in the request only if the owner provides permission, in writing, to enter on an earlier date.

C. Any entry authorized by this section (i) shall be for the purpose of making surveys, tests, appraisals or examinations thereof in order to determine the suitability of such property for the project, and (ii) shall not be deemed a trespass.

D. The petitioner shall make reimbursement for any actual damages resulting from entry upon the property. In any action filed under this section, the court may award the owner his reasonable (i) attorney fees, (ii) court costs, and (iii) fees for up to three experts or as many experts as are called by the petitioner, whichever is greater, who testified at trial if the court finds that the petitioner damaged the owner's property. A proceeding under this subsection shall not preclude the owner from pursuing any additional remedies available at law or equity.

E. The requirements of this section shall not apply to the practice of land surveying, as defined in § 54.1-400, when such surveying is not involved in any eminent domain or any proposed eminent domain matter.

1968, c. 415, § 25-232.1; 1970, c. 182; 2003, c. 940; 2005, c. 877; 2019, c. 788; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 60.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.