When a court orders for taking control of a property or real estate by the government in exchange of money, what is the best word for the court action?

For example:

The court maintains that his real estate shall be ______ by the time he pays his debts.

Apprehend, seize, detain ?

  • 2
    Do you really mean by the time or do you mean until the time? – Andrew Leach May 12 '15 at 12:24
  • Do you mean repossessed? – Alex W May 12 '15 at 17:47
  • Please enhance your example to fully explain the hypothetical situation. – 200_success May 12 '15 at 18:53

Expropriate is also used, especially if the property is taken for public use:

  • (Law) to deprive (an owner) of (property), esp by taking it for public use.

The Free Dictionary

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When a court orders for taking control of a property or real estate by the government in exchange of money, what is the best word for the court action?

I'm assuming you are looking for the term that describes the action of the government. The action of a court would be to "order" in the case of property taken to resolve a debt, or "find", "review" in the case of taking of property for "public use"

Eminent domain laws are created by the federal and state legislatures. Courts have the power to judicially review the acquisition of land. However, if there are no arbitrary and unreasonable decisions, courts cannot interfere in the decisions of the legislature.
Stimmel Law

Simple answer: taking

[In the United States] when a property is acquired by the government, it is called “taking.”
Stimmel Law

"Taking" comes from the last clause of the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Takings clause

The Supreme Court has held that the federal government and each state has the power of eminent domain—the power to take private property for "public use". The Takings Clause, the last clause of the Fifth Amendment, limits the power of eminent domain by requiring that "just compensation" be paid if private property is taken for public use.

Long answer

The power of a government to take control of private property in exchange of money is called by different names depending on the country. See following quote about eminent domain from Wikipedia. The act of taking the property is expropriation, as given in @Josh61's answer.

Expropriation is the act of a government taking private property; Eminent Domain is the legal term describing the government's right to do so.
legal-dictionary: TheFreeDictionary

I get the impression that the example sentence you give is not related.

If the purpose of taking the property is to pay off a debt then @Chenmunka's answer (sequestrated) is better:


Sequestration (in law) is the act of removing, separating, or seizing anything from the possession of its owner under process of law for the benefit of creditors or the state.

If the purpose is "for public use"

Eminent domain

Eminent domain (United States, the Philippines), compulsory purchase (United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland), resumption (Hong Kong), resumption/compulsory acquisition (Australia), or expropriation (South Africa, Canada) is the power of a state or a national government to take private property for public use. However, it can be legislatively delegated by the state to municipalities, government subdivisions, or even to private persons or corporations, when they are authorized to exercise the functions of public character. The property may be taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties, who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, to economic development. The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are for government buildings and other facilities, public utilities, highways, and railroads. However, it may also be taken for reasons of public safety, as in the case of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Some jurisdictions require that the condemnor make an offer to purchase the subject property, before resorting to the use of eminent domain.


American courts have held that the preferred measure of "just compensation" is "fair market value," i.e., the price that a willing but unpressured buyer would pay a willing but unpressured seller in a voluntary transaction, with both parties fully informed of the property's good and bad features.[14] Also, this approach takes into account the property's highest and best use (i.e., its most profitable use) which is not necessarily its current use or the use mandated by current zoning if there is a reasonable probability of zone change.

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If the property is being seized in order to pay a debt, then the property is sequestrated.

Sequestration is the placing of property into the control of a trustee who will distribute it amongst creditors.

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take or seize (someone's property) with authority.

Oxford Dictionaries

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The term, in the UK at least, is Compulsory Purchase

noun 1. purchase of a house or other property by a local authority or government department for public use or to make way for development, regardless of whether or not the owner wishes to sell


This leads to the somewhat clumsy-sounding, but accurate:

The court maintains that his real estate shall be compulsorily purchased by the time...

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  • I think the missing key element here is that there is debt involved. – Alex W May 12 '15 at 17:48

If your court case is in Scotland, the estate might be poinded:-


  1. (Law) to take (property of a debtor) in execution or by way of distress; distrain
  2. (Law) to impound (stray cattle, etc)

[Collins English Dictionary via the Free Dictionary]

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