In Re: Condemnation by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of York, (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2008).
Delay damages are awarded only for the loss of the use of property from the time an owner relinquishes possession until they receive just compensation.
Condemnees owned and rented various properties to college students. The Redevelopment Authority filed declarations of taking for some of the Condemnees’ property. Condemnees were ultimately awarded $166,000 in just compensation. They also requested delay damages in the form of interest at the rate of 6% per year from the date of the filing of the declaration of taking forward. The trial court denied the request.
Condemnees appealed to the Commonwealth Court arguing that they were entitled to delay damages. Delay damages are separate compensation for an owner’s loss of use of property from the time when he or she relinquishes possession until the time that he or she receives compensation. Condemnees are not entitled to delay damages if they remain in possession after the condemnation. A property owner is no longer “in possession” if a declaration of taking deprives a landowner of the full and normal use of his property as established by the use to which the property was put prior to the declaration.
Condemnees argued that they were deprived of normal use of the property because they could no longer rent the properties. Testimony before the trial court indicated that several students had entered into leases prior to the taking; however, testimony also indicated that the properties had been vacant since 2002 and that the City had removed the electrical meters. Since the issue of possession was a question of fact and credibility, the Commonwealth Court deferred to the trial court’s findings of fact and agreed that the Condemnees were in possession of the property and were not entitled to delay damages.
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