Texas Eminent Domain And Condemnation Frequently Asked Questions
Eminent domain is the legal power by which the government takes private property to use for public projects. This process is also known as condemnation. Landowners who receive notice that the government — or an authorized private company — is going to use this power are often concerned and confused, perhaps not wanting to surrender the land that they own.
At Morgan Williamson LLP, our eminent domain attorneys frequently represent property owners facing condemnation proceedings throughout Texas. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions that our attorneys hear.
What do ’eminent domain’ and ‘condemnation’ mean?
People often use the terms “condemnation” and “eminent domain” interchangeably, but there are some key differences. Essentially, “eminent domain” refers to the actual legal power to take private property, while “condemnation” is the process of doing so. If you have received a notice of condemnation from the government or other agency, we encourage you to contact us in Amarillo right away. Our eminent domain lawyers can advise on your next steps for protecting your rights and interests.
What entities have the power to take private property?
Typically, only the government has the power to seize private property. However, in Texas, the government can also authorize private companies — in many cases, energy companies — to exercise the power of eminent domain for drilling, wind farms, road construction and infrastructure expansion. Utility providers may also be authorized to exercise eminent domain. Our team includes experienced administrative law attorneys who can answer your questions if a utility company or other party is seeking to condemn your property.
What types of eminent domain projects are most common?
To use eminent domain, the intended project has to be for public benefit. Infrastructure expansions are the most common use of eminent domain and condemnation. Examples include expanding highways and roads, laying pipelines for gas or water, building rail lines, creating parks or lakes, and building municipal infrastructure.
Do I have to accept the condemning authority’s first offer, or can I negotiate?
You can negotiate, and you do not have to accept the first offer. As our eminent domain lawyers will tell you, the first offer made by the government is often much too low to fairly compensate the property owner for their land. The government is hoping that you accept the initial offer without question, but you deserve fair compensation. Our eminent domain attorneys can negotiate on your behalf to ensure that you get the proper amount for your land based on current market value.
What is meant by ‘just’ or ‘adequate’ financial compensation?
You deserve market value for your property. An accurate valuation needs to be done to determine what the land would sell for on the open market. By law, you as a property owner are entitled to “just” and “adequate” compensation if the government chooses to take your land. You may also be entitled to relocation costs. Just compensation means that the government provides the same amount of financial compensation you would have received if you sold to a non-government, unrelated third party.
Contact Us Today To Learn About Your Options
Since our founding in 1985, the eminent domain attorneys at Morgan Williamson LLP have used our extensive experience and resources to stand up for residential and commercial property owners. We can help ensure that any agreements or settlements that you sign will respect your rights as a landowner and benefit you as much as possible. Property owners throughout Texas trust our law firm for good reason. To get started with a consultation, please call us in Amarillo at 806-705-7546 or send us an email inquiry. Our team can answer your questions, explain your options and help you find solutions.