This Land is Your Land? Explaining Eminent Domain and Condemnation

Eminent domain is the power of a government to take private property for a public purpose. Condemnation is the legal process the government uses to legally acquire private property for a public use.  The government can forcibly take your property against your will, if and only if, they use the condemnation process and pay you fair (“just”) compensation.

Although citizens have a right to fight to stop condemnation, success is very unlikely. You would have the heavy legal burden of proving that the government project is not for a “public purpose.”

The State must offer you “just compensation” for the property it’s taking.  The State determines what it considers to be just compensation by hiring an appraiser to calculate the property’s value which must be for the “highest and best use” of your property.  Frequently, property owners don’t agree with the appraisal, but mistakenly believe that they must take whatever the government offers them. You DO NOT have to accept the amount of money that the State is offering if you don’t believe it is just compensation.

You may have a right to compensation for the reduction in value of any remaining property that you own after the State takes a portion of your property.  If you’re required to relocate as a result of the condemnation of your property, then, in addition to being compensated for the value of your land that is taken, you have the right to seek relocation expense reimbursement.

Trying to fight condemnation on your own is risky.  If you believe that the State is offering, or will offer you fair compensation for your property, then you may not want an attorney.  However, are you sure that you’re qualified to determine your property’s true market value?  The State is motivated to obtain as much land as possible for the least amount of money. The burden is on you to protect your own rights.

Be informed and protect yourself by hiring an attorney to negotiate with the State and its appraisers to get you the highest compensation for your property.  Sometimes, litigation is the only way to obtain fair compensation for you.   In most condemnation cases, attorney fees incurred by property owners in fighting the State are usually based upon a contingent fee basis, where you don’t owe any attorney fees unless the attorney recovers more for you than the State initially offered you.  The attorney normally receives a percentage of the amount above the initial offer made by the State.

Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A.’s lawyers are experienced in these matters and are prepared to give legal guidance to determine what’s fair.

M. David Bland is a civil litigation attorney at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A.  Contact David at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. at (704) 844-1400.  The information contained in this article is general in nature and not to be taken as legal advice nor to establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and M. David Bland or the law firm of Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A.

Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. serves clients in North Carolina and South Carolina.  Located in the town of Matthews between Mecklenburg and Union Counties in North Carolina since 1982, we proudly provide legal services throughout Charlotte, Matthews, Mint Hill, Stallings, Indian Trail, Monroe, Marvin, Wesley Chapel, Weddington, Waxhaw, the Ballantyne area, and other surrounding communities in the Greater Charlotte area.  Our clients range from national corporations and major banking institutions to individuals and local companies.