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If the Government Takes My Land, Can I Obtain Relocation Assistance?

Yes, most persons (and businesses) are eligible for relocation assistance if the North Carolina government (or one of its agencies) takes your land through eminent domain condemnation proceedings AND if you are required to vacate and find another place to live. Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions.

Who Is Eligible?

Basically, with a few exceptions, anyone (or any business) that is required to move because land is taken is eligible to apply. Eligibility extends to:

  • Landowners living on the taken land
  • Renters
  • Business owners displaced by the land taking
  • Owners of mobile and manufactured homes
  • Farm owners

As an example of an exception, a person whose sole business is renting the property at issue to others is NOT eligible for certain relocation assistance like moving expenses. Other exceptions include:

  • Persons who are "unlawfully occupying the displacement dwelling"
  • Persons who have occupied the property for the sole purpose of obtaining relocation assistance under the Act
  • Tenants with short-term rental agreements and
  • Tenants whose leases expire before or at the time that the property is needed by the government agency
Is Relocation Assistance Part of the "Just Compensation" That Must Be Paid for a Land Taking?

No. In North Carolina, relocation assistance is governed by the North Carolina Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act (the "Act"). See NC General Stat. § 133-5 et seq. Section 17 of the Act states that "[p]ayments made and services rendered under this [Act] are administrative payments and in addition to just compensation as provided by the law of eminent domain."

How Much Assistance Can I Obtain?

The money paid can be from a few thousand to $30,000+ for relocation assistance. The amount depends on the circumstances, what categories of assistance can be claimed, what the government agency deems to be "reasonable," residency requirements and other factors.

For example, under Section 8 of the Act, persons and/or businesses displaced are entitled to claim any or all of the following:

  • Actual reasonable moving expenses for persons, families, businesses, farm operations and/or "other personal property" -- note that payment will not be made for moving business fixtures or other things “attached” to the land
  • Actual direct losses of tangible personal property as a result of moving as or discontinuing a business or farm operation, but not to exceed an amount equal to the reasonable expenses that would have been required to relocate such property, as determined by the relocation officer
  • Actual reasonable expenses in searching for a replacement business or farm but not to exceed $2,500
  • Actual reasonable expenses necessary to reestablish a displaced farm, nonprofit organization, or small business at its new site, but not to exceed $10,000

Further, under sections 9 and 10 of the Act, additional payments are available. These are:

  • Pursuant to various requirements and conditions, up to $22,500 may be paid to any displaced person who is displaced from a dwelling actually owned and occupied by such displaced person and
  • Pursuant to various requirements and conditions, up to $5,250 for tenants to enable such persons to rent -- for a period not to exceed 42 months -- a comparable replacement dwelling

Under section 12, property owners can also be eligible for additional payments of the reasonable and necessary costs of paying:

  • Recording fees, transfer taxes and similar expenses incidental to conveying the land/property taken
  • Penalty costs for prepayment of any preexisting mortgage recorded
  • The pro rata portion of real property taxes
How Are Payments Made?

Many payments are made as reimbursements. Moving expenses are a good example. Generally, paid receipts are given to the person designated to handle relocation assistance for the project. Assuming the moving expenses are deemed "reasonable," payment is to be issued "promptly." The Act provides that advance payments can be made "in hardship cases." Some payments -- such as rental assistance -- are paid monthly. Under some sections of the Act, eligible recipients can opt for a lump sum payment.

Does the Government Provide Anyone to Help?

Yes. Under the Act, each time land is taken pursuant to eminent domain, the government agency must assign a person or persons to help displaced persons obtain their relocation payments.

Are Relocation Assistance Payments Taxable?

No. Section 15 of the Act states that "[n]o payment received under this [Act] shall be considered as income for the purposes of the State income tax ..."

Contact Experienced Mecklenburg County Land Use Attorneys Today

For more information, and to schedule a confidential consultation with experienced and dedicated property law and eminent domain attorneys in Charlotte, contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Use our “Contact” page or give us a call at 704-370-2828. We handle land use, zoning and condemnation legal matters in Mecklenburg County and elsewhere in North Carolina. We have offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Union County.