1. What is land condemnation?
Land condemnation is the process by which privately owned real estate is taken from its owner for a public purpose, benefit, or use. The individual or entity condemning—or seizing—the property is called a condemnor. The individual or entity whose property is being condemned is called a condemnee.
2. What is eminent domain?
The legal power to condemn privately owned property for public purpose, benefit, or use is known as the law of eminent domain. Legally, your land may only be taken from you for public or commercial use if it benefits the public.
3. Can I assume the government will treat me fairly under the eminent domain rules?
No. The government is no different from any other real estate buyer, wanting to obtain property as cheap as possible. The difference in eminent domain is that the government is taking the land from you involuntarily. While the law requires the government or condemning agency to pay you “just compensation” we find in the majority of cases that the offers made by the government fail to be fair to property owners. We regularly see government appraisals that severely undervalue properties anywhere from 20-100% or more!
4. What are my rights if my property is condemned?
You have the federal and state constitutional rights to:
- Prevent condemnation if the taking of your land would not serve a public purpose, benefit, or use.
- Be paid just compensation for the property taken from you.
- Recover moving-related expenses, such as replacement housing, relocation assistance advisory services, and other services, which are subject to various limitations. Recovery of these expenses is in addition to just compensation and is not subject to taxation.
5. Who pays the costs of the condemnation proceeding?
In many cases, the condemnor may be responsible for paying court costs. These costs may include reasonable attorney, appraisal, and engineering fees. At Henson Fuerst, most of our condemnation cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. In those cases where a contingency fee is not applicable or advisable, we may also represent land owners on an hourly basis. Our North Carolina property lawyers will meet with you to determine what is the best alternative for you.
6. Do I need a lawyer to assist me in challenging condemnation or seeking just compensation?
Our law firm has reviewed many condemnation court files in numerous counties over many years, and we believe that landowners who hire a lawyer fare better in condemnation proceedings than unrepresented landowners. If you are facing land condemnation, our North Carolina eminent domain attorneys are here to help. Give us a call today at (919) 781-1107 or complete a free initial consultation form.
7.When selecting an attorney what criteria should I consider?
There are many things to consider when hiring an attorney and the main thing to look at is their experience. You want an attorney who handles eminent domain cases on a regular basis and is experienced in all facets of landowner’s rights.
An experienced attorney will know how to properly evaluate appraisers and appraisal reports, will not be compromised by local politics or other potential government represented work, and will not hesitate to take a case to trial.
At Henson Fuerst you can count on our experienced attorneys to be by your side the entire time to help you get the most positive outcome you deserve. Most of our condemnation cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. In those cases where a contingency fee is not applicable or advisable, we may also represent landowners on an hourly basis. One of our experienced North Carolina Land Owners’ Rights lawyers can meet with you to determine what is the best alternative for you.
8. How is fair value for my property determined?
The value of land being taken from a property owner is typically determined by appraisers or other experts. There are three primary approaches that usually considered in condemnation cases: the Sales Comparison Approach, The Cost Approach, and the Income Capitalization Approach. It is critically important that the appraiser or other experts used in your case work closely with your lawyer in analyzing and assessing all of these valuation methods.
At Henson Fuerst, most of our condemnation cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. In those cases where a contingency fee is not applicable or advisable, we may also represent landowners on an hourly basis. One of our experienced North Carolina Land Owners’ Rights lawyers can meet with you to determine what is the best alternative for you.
We’ll answer all of your questions about property owners’ rights, and help you determine the most positive course of action based on the facts and circumstances surrounding your situation. Call Henson Fuerst land condemnation lawyers at 919-781-1107. We’re Here For You.
9. What is the North Carolina law on public purpose?
In 2005, in the case, Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court approved the condemnation of urban land to build commercial properties for the purpose of “future economic development.” The court found that there was a public purpose even though some of the land would not be open for public use, the land would be leased to private enterprises, and even though there was no guarantee that future economic development would occur. A public outcry ensued and 48 states passed statutes or amendments to their state constitutions prohibiting condemnation for such purposes. North Carolina is one of two states which have not passed corrective legislation. This means your land may not be protected from eminent domain. Get legal help today by contacting Henson Fuerst.
10. What is a Design-Build project?
Because of recent legislative changes, the NCDOT is now subcontracting the entire design, planning, right of way acquisition and construction to outside companies and contractors. While traditionally nearly all roadway projects have been managed by the NCDOT, Design-Build is a new process that is greatly changing how roadways are built in the state. If your property is affected by a Design-Build project, talk with your lawyer about how this may impact your interests.
11. If my business is negatively impacted by the government’s eminent domain acquisitions can I be compensated?
Yes, and no. Eminent domain typically only deals with the taking of real property- which includes land, buildings, permanent structures and improvements, and the access thereto. The law typically does not compensate businesses directly for lost profits, revenues or interruptions of operations. There are exceptions to this, however, so an experienced eminent domain land condemnation lawyer from Henson Fuerst can analyze your specific situation for a more complete answer. In addition to condemnation damages, there may also be relocation benefits that the business is entitled to.