What Are Your Rights in an Eminent Domain Claim?
You’ve received a notice from the local, state, or federal government about claiming your property for public use. Now what? We understand this may feel scary, frustrating, or like you don’t have any options, so our eminent domain lawyers in Raleigh are explaining your rights and the best course of action you can take to improve your outcomes.
What Is Eminent Domain in North Carolina?
State and federal governments have the power to claim private property for public or government use as long as the owner of the property is fairly compensated. This power is called eminent domain and is outlined under the Taking Clause in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment expands on the clause to give state and local governments eminent domain rights, too.
While the power or right to claim land is called eminent domain, you may also hear the term “land condemnation.” Unlike condemning property because it’s unsafe, land condemnation in this context is the process or act of taking the property and paying the owner for it.
Process of Land Condemnation in North Carolina
Typically, land condemnation in North Carolina follows the following steps:
- The government agency will announce the project and area needed. Typically, they do contact the landowner immediately that their property falls into the public use lands, but not always.
- A government inspector will appraise the land and share it with the agency overseeing the project. The agency will then value the property and send the owner the offer.
- The landowner can accept or reject the offer. If refused, additional inspections or appraisals are used.
- The government agency may take possession of the land and place compensation in an escrow account for when settlement and negotiations have ended. The case may go to a commission who will review the evidence and hear testimony and draw a conclusion regarding the settlement amount. The landowner can accept or appeal, sending the matter to trial.
Can You Refuse or Resist a Land Condemnation Claim?
It’s important to understand that as long as it’s determined that the land is being used for the public good, they will get the land, and once the eminent domain process begins, it typically can’t be stopped. While you can’t refuse or resist the government’s claim on your land, you can fight to get fair compensation for your land.
Can You Negotiate an Eminent Domain Claim?
You can absolutely negotiate an eminent domain claim to ensure you secure fair compensation for your land. However, this is a complex process, and the government will do what it can to avoid a large payout, even if the initial offer is unfair. Having an experienced eminent domain lawyer on your side can ensure you not only understand every step of the process, but they will also look after your best interests. Often, this includes:
- Working with independent appraisers who can fairly appraise the property value and use that in your entitled compensation.
- Determine if the land use will devalue the rest of your property. For example, if NCDOT builds a highway in front of your house and claims a 20-foot strip of land in your property, your settlement should include the land as well as how this will affect your property value.
- Gathering evidence and testimonies to go before a commission and secure better compensation on your behalf.
Schedule a Consultation with an Eminent Domain Attorney in Raleigh
It’s important to understand that you do have rights in an eminent domain case. If you have received a notice of eminent domain, you need legal representation to help you navigate and negotiate on your behalf. At Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler, & Thomas, LLP, we’re dedicated to helping our clients receive the fair compensation they’re owed for their property. To schedule a free consultation, reach out to us today at (919) 615-2473 for our Raleigh location, 919-365-6000 for our Wendell location, or fill out the form below to get started.
Land Condemnation / Eminent Domain - Case Review