Charlotte Attorney Skilled in Condemnation CasesThe Tatum Law Firm represents private parties in North and South Carolina whose property is about to be seized in accord with the government’s eminent domain power. Usually, you cannot completely stop the seizure of your property, but the land needs to be taken for a public purpose, and the government is supposed to pay you just compensation. If the government and you are unable to agree about the proper amount of compensation, the government can file a condemnation action to take the land. Charlotte eminent domain lawyer Brian Steed Tatum has more than 18 years of experience. He can help you determine whether a taking is for a public purpose and whether the compensation is appropriate. He may be able to fight for greater compensation based on the highest and best use for your property.
Protecting Your Property Rights during the Eminent Domain ProcessFederal, state, and local governments are all empowered to condemn private property for public purposes, such as railroads. The North Carolina Department of Transportation and other government agencies have been delegated this power, but since they are private condemnors, slightly different procedures apply.
The government’s power of eminent domain is limited by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which provides that someone’s private property can be taken only for a public use and upon payment of just compensation. The North Carolina Constitution also has similar protections for those who own private property. When the government exercises its eminent domain power, it can file a land condemnation action, which is considered a direct condemnation action. A property owner can be represented by an attorney to defend against this action.
However, a property owner also has a right to file an inverse condemnation action when government activity interferes with property use, and government regulations are tantamount to a physical seizure of the land.
In some cases, it is possible to reach a settlement with the government before the government brings the direct condemnation action. In most cases, however, you should consult an experienced attorney who can represent you in negotiations and if the matter proceeds to court. Any information you give the government may be used by government representatives to support their position about why the land is being taken, how much is being taken, and how much the land being seized is worth.
In North Carolina, just compensation is the fair market value of the property on the day that the land condemnation petition is filed. Your attorney can retain an appraiser to value your property at its highest and best use or uses. Many properties can be used in a variety of different ways, and the highest and best use is not necessarily how you are currently using your property.
Three common appraisal approaches are used to value the property. With the sales comparison or market approach, the appraiser looks at other similar properties on the market. With the cost approach, the appraiser examines both the land itself and how much it would cost to build the improvements new and then subtracts the depreciated value of the improvements. The value is added to the value of the land to arrive at the fair market value. When the income approach is used, the appraiser looks at market rental income for the property and also determines the market’s expected rate of return for renting a property like yours. The market rental income is divided by the expected rate of return to determine the fair market value.
If only part of the land is taken, this is a partial taking, and in that case, just compensation depends on who is taking the property. When the North Carolina Department of Transportation takes the property, for example, compensation is measured as the difference between the fair market value before the taking and the fair market value after the taking. However, when the local government is doing the taking, just compensation is the higher of the fair market value taken or the difference between the fair market value before and after the taking.
Consult an Eminent Domain Lawyer in the Charlotte AreaBrian Steed Tatum is an experienced Charlotte eminent domain attorney who can represent clients in many areas of North Carolina, such as Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Lancaster, Lincoln, Rowan, Union, and York Counties. He also can assist private parties in South Carolina who are at risk of losing their property to the government. Contact us at (704) 307-4350 or via our online form to set up an appointment. The Tatum Law Firm also is available to assist people who need a personal injury attorney or assistance with a workers’ compensation or Social Security claim.