The Eminent Domain Process
The process of eminent domain can follow one of three basic paths, but they all start in the same place: the government, or even a private company performing a public function (such as a utility company) decides it needs a piece of real estate.
The government contacts the owner of the property and attempts to set a selling price for the property. At this point, the three paths diverge, depending on the property owner's next move.
- The property owner may agree to the sale and accept the offered purchase price.
- The property owner may be willing to sell, but not at the price offered. Negotiation may occur and the parties may agree to the purchase price.
- The property owner is unwilling to sell. The government then must file a court action. When the government files the lawsuit, it names the landowner as a defendant and deposits the government's estimate of just compensation for the taking with the clerk of court. The landowner can then challenge the amount of compensation in court, likely with the assistance of a lawyer.
Why Landowners Need Lawyers in the Eminent Domain Process
When the government acquires your property through the eminent domain process, it's often referred to as a "taking." There are various types of takings:
- Complete taking: the government takes your whole parcel of land.
- Partial taking: the government takes only part of your land, but must pay you for any reduction in value of your remaining land that results from the taking.
- Temporary taking: the government takes all or part of your land, but only for a limited time.
- Taking for Right-of-Way or Easement: You still own the land, but the government has the right to travel through it to access another area or for a specific type of purpose, such as to run a utility line.
No matter what type of taking the government proposes, it has attorneys representing its interests at every step of the eminent domain process. If you don't, you are at a serious disadvantage. It is a mistake to ignore the government's request and just hope that it will go away. Likewise, it is a mistake to challenge the government's request without your own attorney who is experienced in eminent domain cases. The earlier in the process that you retain an attorney, the better your outcome will likely be.
You may not be able to prevent the taking, depending on the circumstances, but if there is any way to prevent it, having a qualified attorney will improve your chances. Even if the taking is unavoidable, having an eminent domain attorney will almost certainly help you get the highest possible payment for your property. And because The Odom Firm takes eminent domain cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not pay an attorney fee unless we recover more money for you than the government initially offered.
The Odom Firm represents landowners at every step of the eminent domain process in cases throughout North Carolina. We are North Carolina eminent domain attorneys and focus on North Carolina eminent domain law. We invite you to call our Charlotte office at 704-377-7333 to schedule a consultation to discuss the eminent domain process, or contact us using our online form. Your initial consultation is free of charge.