I received a condemnation lawsuit against my property, when does the government own my land? If you received a notice of land condemnation, you may wonder exactly when the ownership of your land or property transverse to the government. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if the condemning agency is the North Carolina Department of Transportation, or another state agency, then in all likelihood they already do.
In a typical land condemnation or eminent domain case, where the North Carolina Department of Transportation or another state government agency is involved, the government takes your property in what is called a quick take preceding, which means that they only have to do three simple things to own your land with or without your consent.
They have to, one, file a land condemnation complaint against you. That is probably the papers that you just received. It’s not a big document often, only one or two pages. Two, file a memorandum of action with the Register of Deeds Office. This document sets out the technical facts of who owns the property, who the lane holders are, and description of the property, and exactly what piece of property is being taken. Three, deposit with the County Clerk’s Office an amount equal to the state’s appraisal of just compensation. They will usually serve you with a document called a declaration of taking and notice of deposit at the same time the complaint is filed.
Once they do those three things, which in most state agency cases are done simultaneously, they officially own your land. If you’ve not yet retained a lawyer or if you’ve not yet retained an expert to do an appraisal of your land, then you have a lot of work to do, because certain deadlines and tasks have kicked into place that you need to respond to quickly. In addition to all of this, if your property is being fully taken, the government may also issue a notice to vacate, which, in most cases, will give you about 90 days to pack up and leave your property, regardless of whether it’s a home, farm, business, or church.
Now, if this process seems unfair and uncaring, you’re right, it is. The government agency will be unemotional and unmoved about your plight as a land owner. To them it’s all about money and building things, but to you it’s a whole lot more than that. We’re on your side. If your property is in the process of being taken or if you received any of the land taking papers discussed here, contact us. We can help you understand your legal rights in North Carolina. For more information, visit our website at www.nclandlawyer.com or call us at 800-452-9633.