A History Of


When can owners reclaim their property under eminent domain?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Government

Under the principle of eminent domain, entities like governments, city councils, utility companies or transportation departments (also known as “condemning authorities”) can buy private property for use in public projects. They must follow strict guidelines under Texas law when they do this.

These guidelines also come into effect when they suspend eminent domain operations. At this stage, the original property owner might be able to reclaim their property under certain conditions.

When repurchase is an option

Repurchasing isn’t an automatic right. It’s an option that comes up only in specific situations. As per state law, the original property owner, their heirs, successors or assigns may repurchase their property if one or more of the following conditions apply:

  • The condemning authority (like the government or city council) canceled the public project (like a highway or school construction) before using the acquired property.
  • The condemning authority didn’t make significant progress on the public project within ten years of acquiring the property.
  • The property is no longer necessary for the original or similar public projects within ten years of acquisition.

Various factors might lead condemning authorities to cancel a project. Regardless, owners or their heirs could have a valid reason to repurchase their property under these conditions.

Providing adequate notice

Sometimes, entities may find that a property is no longer needed for a certain project. For example, consider a property acquired for a new highway. If changes in transportation needs or budget constraints lead to the project’s cancellation, the property may no longer be needed for that project.

In this situation, condemning authorities have to let the original owner know they can buy it back if they wish. They must send a notice by certified mail within 180 days of identifying that the former property owner can repurchase the property.

This notice should detail the property and the public project for which the condemning authority initially bought it. It should also explain why the property owner can now buy it back.

Property owner’s rights

If the condemning authority neglects to send this notice, it may be breaking the law. In such situations, property owners should consider consulting a legal professional. A legal professional can take steps to assist owners in receiving a fair chance to repurchase their property, should they have the right to do so.