“Can the Government Take My Land?”

June 27, 2019 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
“Can the Government Take My Land?”

As North Carolina eminent domain lawyers, we're asked all the time:

Can the government take my land?

The short answer is yes, the government can take your land. But… They have to pay for it. If the government can show that they are going to put it to public use, they can take your land under the power of eminent domain as long as they pay you what’s called “just compensation.”  Just compensation is determined and described in North Carolina’s “measure of damage statute” (NC General Statute § 136-112): (1) Where only a part of a tract is taken, the measure of damages for said taking shall be the difference between the fair market value of the entire tract immediately prior to said taking and the fair market value of the remainder immediately after said taking, with consideration being given to any special or general benefits resulting from the utilization of the part taken for highway purposes. (2) Where the entire tract is taken the measure of damages for said taking shall be the fair market value of the property at the time of taking. Some cases may fall under a different statutory section because of who is condemning the property, but the principle remains the same. For those who ask "Can the government take my land?" the next question is often:

"What if the government only takes part of my land?"

Great question. It’s important to note that in cases where only a portion of your land is taken, the government must pay compensation for the part taken AND for any decrease (called “diminution” in legal terms) in the value of the remainder of your property. There are many situations in which diminution resulting from an eminent domain taking may occur. For example:
  • Your house has less value because the road is closer to it now.
  • You can’t rebuild your business if it is ever partially destroyed in a storm because the footprint of your building no longer meets set-back requirements as a result of the taking.
  • Your property no longer has access to other parts of the property that it previously did, rendering it more than useless.
  • A part of your property that you could have built on before can now only be used as greenspace.
  • Water runoff has increased over a portion of your property rendering it entirely useless.
The possible ways that your property could be affected by a taking under eminent domain are more than endless.

RECAP: Can the government take my land?

What is diminution in eminent domain law_ - Riddle & BrantleyYes. But they must pay you “just compensation.” And… if the government takes only part of your land, they must not only compensate you for the part they took, but also compensate you for any resulting loss of value of the land they didn’t take. Like so much of eminent domain law, it’s complicated. That’s why we recommend speaking with an experienced North Carolina eminent domain lawyer if the government decides to take your land.

Is the Government Taking Your Land?

In eminent domain cases the government wants to pay as little as possibleIf the government decides to take your land, you’ll be up against high-powered government attorneys, appraisers, and other experts determined to pay you as little as legally possible. You deserve justice. And that means getting what your property is actually worth. If you want the best possible outcome, you probably want to work with an experienced NC eminent domain lawyer who understands the process and can fight on your behalf. The government can take your land, but you deserve fair compensation. For a FREE consultation with an experienced eminent domain lawyer familiar with North Carolina eminent domain law, please call 1-800-525-7111 or complete the short form below. We would be happy to help if we can.