What Is the Eminent Domain Process in Texas?
It is not unusual for privately held land in Texas to contain valuable natural resources or to be in a key location. These landowners are frequently susceptible to local governments or corporate entities seeking to purchase the land for their own interests.
If you are a Texas landowner facing condemnation, understanding the eminent domain process in Texas and your rights as a property owner are critical to receiving fair compensation for your land. Because Texas eminent domain legislation can be complicated, we’ve developed this guide to help you understand the process.
What Is Eminent Domain?
Although the terms “eminent domain” and “condemnation” are frequently used interchangeably, the latter refers to the exercise of eminent domain power. Eminent domain refers to the inherent ability of state, federal, or private governments to appropriate private land for public benefit. Thus, condemnation occurs when government agencies or authorized organizations use eminent domain to take property.
The Eminent Domain Process in Texas
Below is a breakdown of the steps involved in the eminent domain process.
1. Government or Private Entity Announces Project
Condemnors are entities wishing to take your property, whether commercial companies or the government. Private firms must follow legal procedures to gain eminent domain authority and property for future developments.
In this stage of the process, condemnors frequently issue statements, host public meetings, or participate in other actions during the early phases of project development to alert the public about the project’s impact on private property.
2. Texas Landowner Hires an Attorney
This is the time when landowners should seek counsel. Property owners recommend hiring an eminent domain lawyer to help with the eminent domain process in Texas, because each case differs in complexity. An eminent domain attorney will look at the value of your property and evaluate potential damages to help ensure you receive just compensation.
3. Condemnor Values Property and Makes an Offer
Through the help of an appraiser, the condemning authority determines the value of your property before making an offer. These appraisals may ignore severance issues or use inappropriate property benchmarks to keep project costs low. Therefore, the condemning authority presents the final valuation offer alongside this appraisal report.
4. Eminent Domain Lawyer Evaluates Offer and Determines Best Course of Action
Upon receiving the offer, your eminent domain attorney determines whether the amount represents fair compensation by finding any errors in the valuation and assessing damages that were not included in the offer. For example, suppose the amount does not reflect the true value of your property and potential damages. In that case, a second appraisal is often conducted to support the claim, and your lawyer determines the best course of action to proceed.
Texas Landowners Deserve Fair Compensation
Navigating the eminent domain process in Texas can be overwhelming for a property owner, but that should not prevent you from fighting for your rights.