What To Do if Your Property Is Condemned

If you’re facing land condemnation – or the seizure of your commercial property, business, church, or farm under eminent domain – don’t face the government alone. The experienced eminent domain and land condemnation attorneys at Henson Fuerst protect the rights of property owners across North Carolina. Ideally, you will have already hired an attorney before a lawsuit is filed since there are several important tasks and considerations that should be addressed before that point. Still, if litigation has already started, action must be taken promptly.

Be Mindful of Time Limits

Once you are notified that your land is being condemned, there are time limits for you to take legal action. These limits depend on the entity that is condemning your land. The notice you receive—known as a “condemnation complaint”—states why your property is being taken, how much is being taken, and the estimated value of the land. Under North Carolina land condemnation and eminent domain law, generally, you must take legal action within the specified time limits:

  • North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)—If the NCDOT is condemning your property, you must file an answer to its condemnation complaint within 12 months.
  • Local Public or Private Condemnors (such as towns, counties, utility companies, hospitals, public schools)  If a local public or private condemnor seizes your property, you must file your answer within 120 days, unless otherwise specified.
  • North Carolina Department of Administration (NCDOA)—If the NCDOA is seizing your property, you must file your answer within 120 days

Corporations Cannot Represent Themselves in Litigation

Corporations and other business entities in North Carolina cannot represent themselves in litigation, as set out in the leading NC Court of Appeals case Division of Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Travishan Corp., 155 N.C. App. 205, 573 S.E.2d 547 (2002). In that case, the court affirmed that “in North Carolina, a corporation must be represented by a duly admitted and licensed attorney-at-law and cannot proceed pro se [i.e., without a lawyer] unless doing so in accordance with” certain exceptions.

While individuals can represent themselves in court, this right does not extend to corporations, limited liability companies, or other business entities. Nor does it matter if the individual attempting to make an appearance on behalf of the corporate entity is the president, chairman of the board, CEO, or sole shareholder of the entity. 

Protecting The Rights of Property Owners Is What We Do

If you have received a condemnation complaint, it’s essential to contact an experienced lawyer right away. For over 45 years, our team of attorneys have been representing clients across the state of North Carolina. Talk with us today by calling 919-781-1107 or submitting a free consultation form online to see how we may be able to help.