Office of the Property Rights Ombudsman, how we can help you.

January 18, 2022

What we can help you with?
Our office was created by the Utah Legislature over twenty years ago to help citizens and government agencies understand and comply with land use laws and eminent domain regulations. Our authority and responsibilities are varied, and are detailed in various sections of Utah Code. For instance, we can mediate eminent domain disputes as well as disputes between irrigation companies and real estate developers where the irrigation facilities need to be relocated or altered.
We also answer lots and lots of legal questions. We often answer whether certain land use decisions are lawful. For instance, we get asked whether impact fee schedules are proper, whether the requirement that a proposed subdivision bury adjacent regional power lines at great expense is legal, or whether a Conditional Use Permit was appropriately approved or denied. We also do trainings for local government officials, and even administer a land use training fund to help others provide training as needed.
How we help consumers navigate our Office?
The Office of the Property Rights Ombudsman staff works hard to be easily accessible to citizens and government agencies alike. Utahns can call, email, or come into our office to get their property law questions answered. (Make an appointment if you want to meet in-person just to make sure someone is available). For each of the last few years, the number of questions we answer has gone up by at least 10% per year. We answered over 1,400 general questions last year alone. However, our office is quite small – just three attorneys and one secretary – so we rely on our website to do some of the work.
Our website is a great legal resource and includes detailed answers to many common land use, property rights, and eminent domain questions. It also includes summaries of recent legal opinions, copies of the written legal opinions we’ve issued, and copies of the forms for requesting mediation, arbitration, and advisory opinions. Our website is in the process of being updated and should be even more user-friendly once the new version is up and running.

Common requests we get that we cannot help with and why.

The Utah Code also serves as the boundaries of our authority as well. Two common topics we can’t help truly resolve are (1) boundary disputes and (2) easement questions where only private property owners are involved. We can help educate the parties, and explain what the various laws regarding boundaries and easements are, but we don’t have authority to mediate, arbitrate, or issue a legal opinion where both are private parties. (If one party is a government entity, we can do more to help). Our website has lots of great information on both of these topics, though, and many disputes are resolved just by informing the parties about the appropriate legal standards.

Bottom line, this is what we do.
If you are a citizen or government agent and have a land use or eminent domain question, give us a call. We can help you understand what your rights and obligations are. If you have a dispute where one party is a state or local government agency, we can help by mediating or issuing a legal opinion. Our website is also a great resource if you have land use or eminent domain questions. We are a neutral third-party resource. While we cannot be your lawyer and advocate on your behalf, we are here to help you understand the law and resolve issues where possible.