What is eminent domain?
Eminent domain is the government’s power under the United States Constitution, North Carolina Constitution, Federal law, and North Carolina law, to take property (land, leases, buildings, etc.) for a public purpose.
Who can take my property?
Cities, towns, counties, local governments, state governments, the department of transportation, school boards, utility companies, and airports are the most common condemnors who can take property under North Carolina law.
What is a condemnor?
A condemnor is the person, government or utility company who takes the property from the landowner.
What is condemnation?
Condemnation is the process the condemnor follows in order to legally take property from the landowner. Condemnation generally means the same thing as eminent domain.
What happens when the condemnor takes my property?
Generally, the condemnor must give you a 30-day notice before it can take your property. Often, the condemnor will give you a written offer to purchase your property before it seeks legal action against you. If the condemnor seeks legal action because you have not accepted its offer or do not agree with its offer, the condemnor must file a Complaint and pay to the court the amount of money that the condemnor believes your property is worth.
What is a Complaint?
A Complaint is a document under North Carolina law that the condemnor must file with the court and deliver to you which states how much of your property is being taken, the reason your property is being taken, and how much it believes your property is worth.
What is a Summons?
A Summons is a document under North Carolina law that the condemnor must file with the court and deliver to you which tells you that a lawsuit has been filed against you and how much time you have to file an answer to the condemnor’s Complaint.
How much does the condemnor have to pay me?
Under the North Carolina Constitution and the North Carolina General Statutes, a landowner is entitled to “just compensation.” The condemnor has to pay you “fair market value.”
What is fair market value?
It is the amount of money that a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller.
Can I take the deposit and still contest the amount of just compensation?
Yes, if you timely file an answer to the condemnor’s Complaint. If you take the deposit you generally cannot contest the public purpose of the taking.
Can I stop the condemnor from taking my property?
Yes, but it is difficult. The United States Supreme Court has held that a condemnor can take a person’s property for a public purpose. The Supreme Court has broadly defined public purpose, and a finding of a lack of a public purpose is rare.
What laws in North Carolina govern condemnation/eminent domain?
Chapter 40A of the North Carolina General Statutes
Chapter 136, Article 9 of the North Carolina General Statutes
What if I do not agree with the condemnor’s opinion of the value of my property?
Under North Carolina law, you have a right to a jury trial where a jury of individuals from the community will hear the evidence and return a verdict (Latin for “to speak the truth”) of the amount of just compensation.
I’m a business owner. Am I entitled to compensation for lost business profits or other related expenses?
Generally under North Carolina you are not entitled to lost business profits, rents, relocation costs, or other related expenses.
I’m a landlord. My income producing property is being taken or affected. Am I entitled to lost rents?
No, under North Carolina law you are not entitled to separate damages for lost rents. The rental income that your property produced is a factor in determining just compensation.
I’m a tenant and the place I’m renting is being taken by the government. Am I entitled to any portion of the landlord’s just compensation?
Uncertain. This depends on the facts of the particular situation and the terms of the lease you have with your landlord.
Questions About Eminent Domain? Call us at 336-723-7200