What Do You Do if the Government Wants to Take Your Land?

Eminent domain is the authority given to certain entities that allows them to take private property for a public purpose. This authority is given to Cities, Counties, the State of Texas, and to companies that build pipelines for the transportation of oil and gas for a third party. These are condemnors.

A condemnor will want to negotiate an agreed price for the land, but if an agreement cannot be reached the condemnor will file suit to take the land. Either way, you are entitled to fair and just compensation for your land and can agree on the amount of compensation at any time during the process. Please make sure you have all the facts before reaching that agreement.

The eminent domain process generally starts with a request to survey your property to determine the property to be taken. After the survey is complete, a landowner will receive an initial written offer identifying the property to be taken and the amount being offered for the property.

You have at least thirty days to consider this initial offer before the condemnor makes a “Final Offer.” In this final offer, the condemnor must provide you with a written appraisal, from a certified appraiser, of the fair market value of the property to be taken and the compensation for any damages to the property that you will still own. The condemnor cannot file suit against you until 14 days after you receive the final offer letter.

If you do not reach an agreement, the condemnor will file suit to take your property. The timing of this will vary based on the condemnor’s timeline for needing the property, and the status of negotiations. Once suit is filed, the assigned Court will appoint three citizens of your County to hear evidence from you and the condemnor, and determine the money due to you for the land. If you are dissatisfied with the amount due, you can object and have a jury decide the money due to you for your land.

If you are facing this type of issue, call us to discuss the fair compensation for your property, and to better understand the process and your rights.