What Is a Quick-Take Action in North Carolina?
Imagine losing some or all of your home or business property without agreeing to sell it and with very little notice. The state or local government, or an agency like the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), has the right to take it in a so-called “quick-take action.”
If your property has been taken via a quick-take action, contact us immediately at 877-393-4990. We may not be able to save your property, but we can help you fight for fair compensation for the taking.
What Exactly Is a Quick-Take?
A “quick-take” is an action by a condemning authority to secure immediate ownership over the property it takes. Once the suit is filed and estimated compensation is deposited with the court, your property belongs to them.
Where Does the Government Get Quick-Take Authority?
The power to take your property in North Carolina comes from Chapter 40A and Chapter 136 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Note that a local condemning authority can choose to condemn under either of these chapters if condemning for a highway system street, which may impact how damages are determined and compensated.
A provision in Chapter 136 allows the condemning authority – the NCDOT, for example – to take your property as soon as it files the lawsuit and deposits its estimate of compensation. The title vests upon filing, meaning that you do not have to agree with this compensation.
That’s where the quick-take comes from.
Why Does the Government Have Quick-Take Authority?
The ability to quick-take property allows the government to reduce the overall length of its projects, generally resulting in the government being able to complete more projects. Rather than allow a landowner to put up a long, often unsuccessful negotiation, a quick-take allows the government to quite literally quickly take property: 1) for a project with a public use; 2) but only as much property it needs; 3) with the deposit amount as a good faith estimate of just compensation.
Can the Government Quick-Take My Property Without Notifying Me in North Carolina?
The law requires the government to notify owners of properties they are taking before filing the action. For a quick-take action, the condemning authority may give a property owner as little as 30 days’ notice before filing their suit with the court.
Can I Negotiate for More Compensation in a Quick-Take?
Yes! The truth is that you need not accept the government’s offer of compensation. Once you’ve properly notified them that you disagree with their offer, you’re still entitled to whatever funds they deposit with the court while still seeking additional compensation.
What Are Some Signs That My Property May Be Subject to a Quick-Take?
Generally, signs of a possible quick-take are the same as any other eminent domain taking. The majority of eminent domain takings in North Carolina are by the NCDOT. Almost every project undertaken by the NCDOT has an extensive history of planning, engineering, and public discussion. Be on the lookout for signs, hearing notices, and the like. Talk to your neighbors.
Another sign that your property may be destined for taking is the presence of the government’s agents on your property. These are usually right-of-way agents, surveyors, and others who are measuring and determining what is needed. The same laws that give the government the right to take your property afford them the right of access your property before the taking.
In other words, they don’t need your permission to enter your property for eminent domain planning.
Maybe you’re at work or can’t see all of your property. Another sign may be stakes, paint, or other markers on the property. It is NOT in your best interests to tamper with or remove these markers.
What if the Quick-Take Is Only a Small Easement?
What if someone were to occupy your property, pay you less than it is worth, and leave you with little right to use it while you have to pay property taxes on it each year? That’s what an easement may do, and the effect of an easement on your property could be far-reaching. That’s right: even though your use of your property with an easement may be significantly reduced, you still shoulder the tax burden.
Permanent easements “run with the land” and will always be there when it comes time to sell the property. Temporary easements may prevent you from using your property during construction. You can’t use part of your property how you want if your desired use conflicts with DOT’s use of the easement.
Easements are a very tricky part of North Carolina’s eminent domain law. Before you agree to one, it’s highly advisable to consult with an eminent domain attorney. This is doubly true with a quick-take, as the condemning authority hopes to get what it needs quickly and may not fully disclose all usage rights.
What Should I Do if a Quick-Take Happens to Me?
Don’t panic, and contact an eminent domain attorney immediately. It is generally in your best interests not to accept the government’s offer on your property in a traditional eminent domain taking, and that remains the case for quick-takes. The same general rules for eminent domain in North Carolina still apply.
They can take your property, but you do still have the right to fair compensation.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Quick-Take?
If the question is, “Is a lawyer required?” the answer is no. You’re not required to hire an attorney for eminent domain taking, including a quick-take. The more accurate question is, should you hire a lawyer for a quick-take? Our recommendation is “yes.”
If you choose to go it alone, how will you determine what’s fair? Some property owners have their own appraisal performed and unknowingly harm their case.
Let us help you. The NC Eminent Domain Law Firm has three former NCDOT attorneys working for property owners. We know the system and the law. We have a network of contacts, professionals, and appraisers who can help us seek the most compensation for your condemned property. A quick-take may not leave us with much time, though.
Get in touch with us as soon as you’re aware of a quick-take. Call 877-393-4990 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. Since we’ve been in business, we have gotten our clients an average of 202% more for their property than was initially offered.1 And if we do not increase the amount of your offer, you will not owe us a dime.
1Each case is different and must be evaluated separately. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Average based on each case’s increase as of 12/31/20.