You Have Rights When Government or Some Private Party Takes Your Land

The government (and some private third parties) have the power to take private land for public use in exchange for fair payment. Many think, mistakenly, that they have no rights when this happens, that they must just "give up" and accept the taking of their land and that there are no legal options. That is incorrect. You have rights when the government (or a private third party) takes your land. Here is what you need to know.

A Right to Fair Market Value of Your Land Taken

First, as a landowner, you have a right to receive the fair market value of the land that was taken. In legal terms, this is called "just compensation." If you think the government has offered you less than the fair market value of your land, you have the right to fight in court to receive fair compensation. Many think they have to take what the government gives you. This is not true. In fact, the government often "low-balls'' the amount that they think is "fair" compensation in the hopes that the landowner will "just take it." The government knows that many landowners need the money and will take it, that many people do not know how to fight for fair compensation, and that it takes time to fight for fair compensation. This means the government can "get away" with paying less than is fair. Landowners have a right to fight for what is fair. Landowners will need the help of experienced North Carolina land taking attorneys like those at Arnold & Smith, PLLC.

A Right to the Proper Legal Process

Landowners also have a right to the proper legal process. For example, if the North Carolina Department of Transportation ("NCDOT") wants to take land for a road or a road widening, the NCDOT must first offer to buy the land. Further, the NCDOT must engage in "good faith negotiations" with respect to purchasing the land prior to initiating the legal process of taking the land. If you think the NCDOT has negotiated in bad faith, you can fight. Again, you will need the help of experienced North Carolina land taking attorneys.

As another example, private third parties can initiate land taking procedures. Such third parties must also follow the law and the proper procedures. For example, a utility company can take private land for installation and operation of a pipeline but the law strictly limits the width of land that can be taken. If the utility company tries to take more land than they are allowed, the landowner has a right to fight and have a court impose the legal requirements on the utility company.

A Right to the Proper Legal Basis for Taking Private Land

Further, landowners have the right to fight if the government or private third party is taking land for the wrong or disallowed reasons. The taking of private land is only allowed for "public use" and only as much land as is "necessary" can be taken. If you think the government or private party has taken land for some private use or has taken land that is not necessary, you have a right to fight and litigate the legal issues.

A Right to Compel a Full Taking Where a Partial Taking Destroys the Value of the Land

In some situations, the government or private third parties will try and take only a portion of a landowner's property. This allows them to pay as little as possible for the taking. But, if the portion taken destroys -- or diminishes -- the value of all the land, the property owner has a right to fight. The landowner can compel the government to "take" all the land or to pay the fair market value of the diminished value of the remaining land.

A Right to Fair Compensation for Government Actions That are EFFECTIVELY Takings

Sometimes, the government will take some action that EFFECTIVELY takes private property without engaging in the specific legal process of taking title to the land. If this happens, landowners have a right to be compensated for the diminished fair market value of their land. Examples include the effect of airport runways and air traffic and designations by the NCDOT under the MAP Act. If this happens, the landowner has a right to fight and a right to fair compensation for the loss in value to their land.

A Right to Remove Personal Property

Finally, when land is taken for public use, the land owners have a right to remove their personal and other property.

Contact Experienced Mecklenburg County Land Use Attorneys Today

For more information, and to schedule a confidential consultation with experienced and dedicated property law attorneys in Charlotte, contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC by using our “Contact” page or giving us a call at 704.370.2828. We handle land use, zoning and condemnation legal matters in Mecklenburg County and throughout North Carolina and have offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Union County.