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What are your rights as a landowner facing eminent domain?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2024 | Government

Development projects frequently boost the economy of surrounding communities. Yet, when it is your home that is on the path of a new government initiative, there is pressure to defend what is yours. Major infrastructure such as roads, pipelines and highways demand large amounts of land. When state projects overlap with privately owned land, the government may seize them by exercising eminent domain.

For many facing a commendation order, it may appear as though the law favors the government. It can truly be a difficult battle but know that the law also has protections for property owners. The government cannot simply take what is yours without completing the necessary procedures.

Know your rights

As a Texan landowner, it can be unsettling to receive a notice of condemnation. In this situation, it is pertinent to be aware of your rights.

  • Public purpose: Your property may only be taken for public use. Although there is no strict definition for “public use”, the law prohibits the taking of land through eminent domain for solely economic development purposes or under false pretenses. It is crucial to remember that these guidelines do not apply to all entities.
  • Due process: You must receive timely and reasonable notice, along with the opportunity to present a claim or defense.
  • Fair compensation: The condemning authority must compensate you adequately for the part of the land they take, including any resulting damages to the rest of your property.
  • Appraisal: The entity seeking your property must supply a written appraisal from a certified property appraiser. If you feel the need to, you may hire your own appraiser to confirm the value of your property.
  • Expense reimbursement: If a condemnation order requires your relocation, you may qualify to receive reimbursement for the move and associated costs.
  • Legal representation: You may hire an attorney to negotiate or contest the condemning entity, and to represent you during proceedings.

Do not fight alone

With your property on the line, standing your ground is a natural response. After receiving a condemnation notice, you do not have to accept it right away. You can dispute, seek legal counsel and fight. Partnering with an attorney experienced in eminent domain could provide you with the support and insights you need to take on this challenge.