Are Eminent Domain and Land Condemnation the Same Thing?
Eminent domain is the law that gives state and federal government agencies the right to take private property or land for public use, as long as the property owner is offered just compensation. Land condemnation is the actual act of taking the property under the right of eminent domain.
For example, if NCDOT is building a new road through your property, eminent domain gives them the right to land condemnation by purchasing your land at a just market value.
Who Has the Right to Eminent Domain?
Federal, state, and local governments and government agencies can all claim eminent domain to take private property for public use. This means NCDOT can condemn private property to extend a road or a local government can condemn property for a school or park.
Additionally, private companies, such as utilities or railroads, may receive the ability to condemn private property if it’s for a project designed to benefit the common good.
If I Receive a Notice of Eminent Domain, Should I Contact My State Representative or City Government?
We would recommend that you contact an experienced eminent domain attorney who is on your side and will fight on your behalf to get the best possible offer. Your elected official is unlikely to be unable to assist you and may be more concerned with saving the government money rather than getting you the best price.
Should I Stop Maintaining My Property If the State Is Going to Claim It?
Until the land is officially transferred to the government, you want to make sure it’s in as good of a condition as possible. This is to help you get a higher appraisal which can improve or increase the amount that is considered just compensation.
Will I Receive Proper Notice of the Government’s Intent to Acquire My Property?
Usually, yes. In some cases, a government agency, such as a highway department, makes a decision without public discussion about where to locate a road and which properties are to be taken. In other cases, the local legislative body, such as the municipal board of council, may make the decision at an open meeting. Ordinarily, there is no process by which an owner may participate directly in the decision to acquire property. However, in our experience landowners are typically notified by a government agency or utility once a decision to take has been made for the purpose of negotiating a price for the taking. It is at this point that we recommend you get an experienced North Carolina land condemnation attorney involved.
Should I Get My Property Appraised During Land Condemnation?
An appraisal is an opinion of value given by an expert, typically a professional real estate appraiser. Because the government will have their own appraiser determine what the “just value” of your property is, it’s important to have someone on your side to ensure it’s a fair offer. Our eminent domain attorneys typically enlist the help of a qualified appraiser as a usual first step with our clients, and we recommend you do the same. This will help you and your lawyer to determine the appropriate value to be put on your real estate, whether in negotiations with the government or in court.
Can the Government Take All of My Property in Land Condemnation
Often, particularly in transportation-related acquisitions, the government may take only a portion of the property, such as a certain number of feet adjacent to a right of way for a roadway widening. In such a case, the government must pay not only for the amount of property actually taken, but for the damage occurring to the remainder of the property. Frequently, the remainder of the property will become less valuable because of the loss of the part taken, such as because of loss of access or because the remaining property is less useful than it was prior to the taking.
At What Point Should I Contact an Eminent Domain Attorney?
As soon as you learn your land will be affected or that a government agency is going to use eminent domain to claim your property, you should have an experienced eminent domain attorney in Raleigh to help you. The government is not concerned with your best interests, and it’s important to have a knowledgeable ally help you get the best compensation for your land.
Call us at 919-615-2473 with all your North Carolina land condemnation questions.
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