The Condemnation Process

You may first learn that your property is being taken for public benefit when a potential condemnor enters your land for the purposes of conducting preliminary surveys or to gather engineering or other data. State law permits such entries; however, the condemnor must pay you for any damages to your land caused by the entry.

Generally, you will then be contacted by an agent of the condemning authority who will seek to negotiate a purchase price with you for the land to be condemned. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the North Carolina Department of Administration (NCDOA) are legally required to attempt “good faith” negotiations with property owners prior to filing a condemnation lawsuit—local condemnors are not.

The Condemnation Complaint—NCDOT/NCDOA

In most NCDOT and NCDOA condemnations, known as “quick-take” condemnations, the agency files and serves the landowner with a condemnation complaint if good faith negotiations fail. The complaint is a document stating why your property is being taken, how much is being taken, and how much it is believed to be worth.

Once the complaint is filed with the Clerk of Superior Court and the condemnor has deposited its estimate of just compensation for the property taken, both the title and the right to immediate possession of the property belongs to the state agency condemnor. As the landowner, you may apply to the court for all or part of the deposit for the land—even if you plan on challenging the valuation deposit of your property.

Petition to the Clerk of Superior Court—Local Private & Public Condemnors

Different procedures apply to local private and local public condemnors:

  • Local Private Condemnors
    There is no “quick-take” procedure for local private condemnors. They must file petitions with the Clerk of Superior Court asking commissioners to value the land.If the clerk finds the land may be condemned, the clerk will appoint three commissioners to value the land and issue a report, which establishes just compensation. You have the right to appeal the clerk’s findings to the Superior Court.Local private condemnors are not required to deposit the sum for the land, but are not entitled to possession of the land until such a deposit is made.
  • Local Public Condemnors
    Local public condemnors are allowed “quick-take” procedures, although they differ from that available to NCDOT and NCDOA. They must provide 30-day notice of condemnations to owners of affected properties.Local public condemnors also must deposit estimated compensation for the property with the clerk and you must be allowed to withdraw the deposit before they may take possession of your land.

Once a complaint has been filed by either a local or private condemnor, the landowner has the right to apply to the court for all or part of the land deposit made by the condemnor. In local private actions, you are not required to “answer” or respond to the complaint, but in local public condemnation actions you must respond to the complaint within 120 days.

We Can Help with Your Case

Eminent domain cases are complex, and without the help of an experienced North Carolina property lawyer on your side, you may not get the full amount of compensation you’re owed. Find out how the North Carolina eminent domain attorneys at HensonFuerst can help with your case—call (919) 781-1107 or complete a free initial consultation form.