When you own property in Texas, you have certain rights that come with that ownership. But what happens when the government wants to use your land for something deemed to be in the public interest? You might find yourself in this situation if your property is in the path of a new highway, public utility or similar project. Eminent domain allows the government to acquire privately held land for public use, provided the owner receives just compensation. It is their power.
Now, imagine you have received a notice that a private company is eyeing your property for a new project. It could be a pipeline, a power line or even a new shopping center. You might wonder, “Can they actually do this? Can a private company take my land?” In Texas, the answer is not always a simple yes or no.
It should be for public use
First, get familiar with the concept of eminent domain. It is the power that allows entities to acquire land for public use. In Texas, the law does allow certain private entities to use eminent domain, but they must prove that the takeover serves the public. Think of utilities or transportation companies that need to build infrastructure that the public will use.
Private companies must meet strict criteria if they insist on taking your property. They must show that they need your property for the project and that the project qualifies as public use. You have every right to challenge their claim—demand to see the necessity and the public benefit.
The compensation should be fair and just
You hold the title to your property, and that means you have rights. If a private company claims eminent domain over your land, they must offer you fair compensation. You have the power to negotiate this price. If it does not match what you believe is the fair market value of your property, you can stand your ground. You have the right to take the matter to court, where a judge can decide the outcome.
Remember, just because a private company wants your property does not mean they can take it at will. You have the power to challenge the claim and ensure that any acquisition of your property is legal, necessary and comes with proper compensation.