North Carolina House of
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Marshall Conrad
Date: March 23, 2021
REP. JOHN SZOKA FILES LEGISLATION TO PROTECT AND ENHANCE PROPERTY RIGHTS FOR FAMILY LANDOWNERS
RALEIGH, N.C. – State Representatives John Szoka (R-Cumberland), Kyle Hall (R-Stokes), Donna White (R-Johnston) and Brian Turner (D-Buncombe) filed HB367, the “Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act”, a bill that protects the private property rights of families who own land as tenants in common and ensures that these family landowners have access to federal funding for disaster recovery and conservation improvements on their land. The bill provides due process protections for these family landowners and helps keep their farms and forests intact and profitable.
Rep. Szoka the primary sponsor of the legislation said, “For too long, many family landowners in North Carolina have not been able to maximize the value of their land, while also missing out on federal cost share programs that boost agricultural productivity and wildlife outcomes. It’s long past overdue that we support these families with the commonsense protections and due process found in the Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act.”
Zach Wallace, Policy Manager at Audubon North Carolina, a state office of the National Audubon Society stated, “We thank Representative Szoka for his leadership to protect family farms and forests and ensure that family landowners can access federal funding to improve wildlife habitat on their properties.”
Background: “Heirs’ property” is family-owned land passed down through generations and owned by many family members with an undivided interest in the land. This ownership setup makes it difficult for families to maximize the value and profitably of their land and leaves them vulnerable to involuntary land loss. The Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act is a model bill established by the Uniform Laws Commission that helps address these problems and has been passed in 17 states including Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Georgia. The bill protects heirs’ family farms and other properties by supporting the rights of heirs to keep their land intact and ensuring that family members receive fair market value when their land is sold. The 2018 federal Farm Bill included provisions that make it
easier for heirs’ families in states that have enacted the Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act to access federal funding for land improvements that enhance agricultural productivity, wildlife habitat, and water quality improvements.
The bill is supported by a broad coalition of organizations including state conservation groups, land trusts, family land loss organizations, North Carolina Realtors, members of the NC Bar Association, and academic partners