Eminent domain can be a scary concept for a Texas landowner. The thought of a government entity or some other party being able to seize your property can be stressful, but it can happen. That’s why landowners must be aware of their rights when it comes to protecting their property. Awareness of what’s included in the Texas Landowner’s Bill of Rights can help you understand your options if you’re faced with the threat of eminent domain.
What rights do you have?
First, you should know that any entity exercising eminent domain is required to provide you with a copy of the Landowner’s Bill of Rights. This bill includes information on how one can use the property and who has the authority to condemn it. You must receive proper compensation for your condemned property, and it can only be for public use.
The entity that wishes to condemn your property must give you a copy of an appraisal from a certified appraiser. If you feel that the appraiser’s estimate is too low, you may get your own appraisal in an attempt to have your property fairly valued. If there is a difference in the appraisals, you may have to plead your case in court.
Condemning your property
The entity that wishes to exercise eminent domain on your property must first make a legitimate offer to buy your property before filing for condemnation. If you refuse the offer, you can present your case in court with evidence to support your claims. You have a right to a hearing before the condemnation is complete.
The hearing will allow you to speak in front of a panel of three commissioners. They will consider the evidence presented and determine the proper compensation amount. They may also award you compensation for a reduction in the value of the rest of your property when appropriate. If you are unhappy with any part of the process, you can request a hearing in front of a judge or jury. If you believe you did not receive fair treatment according to the law, you may appeal that decision.
Don’t face it alone
Facing eminent domain condemnation can be intimidating for a landowner. You should be aware of your rights and understand Texas laws surrounding the condemnation of private property by a government or other entity. You have the right to work with an attorney so that you have legal representation backing you up and helping you make decisions and negotiate terms when needed.