Eminent domain authority, limited by the United States Constitution and Texas law, grants the government the power to seize private property for the benefit of the general public. If the government is threatening to take your land, you need the representation of our knowledgeable Arlington eminent domain litigation attorney.
The attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. have years of experience representing Arlington landowners in eminent domain litigation. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help you. Call (817) 476-1797 to schedule a free consultation.
Eminent Domain and Property Owners’ Rights in Arlington, TX
The exercise of eminent domain authority by the government is called condemnation. Some private companies acting with government authorization, such as electrical or water providers, can also exercise this power. Chapter 12 of the Texas Property Code outlines the procedures the government is required to take to acquire private land. More specifically, Texas law lists three elements necessary to legally exercise the power of eminent domain:
- Only the government or an authorized private entity has the right to condemn private property.
- The condemnation is for public benefit or public use.
- The government or an authorized private entity must adequately compensate the owner of the property.
To further protect property owners’ rights, the State of Texas also established the Landowner’s Bill of Rights, containing ten specific protections for landowners:
- The condemning authority is required to adequately compensate the landowner.
- Private property can only be condemned for public use or public benefit.
- The condemning entity must be the government or an authorized private company.
- The condemning entity must notify the landowner before beginning the condemnation process.
- The condemning entity must provide the landowner an appraisal from a certified appraiser.
- The condemning entity must propose a good faith offer to purchase the property before beginning the condemnation process.
- The landowner can hire their own appraiser to evaluate the property’s value.
- The landowner has the right to legal representation throughout the condemnation process.
- The landowner has the right to a hearing in front of three court-appointed commissioners if dissatisfied with the purchase offer.
- The landowner has the right to a trial to challenge the commissioners’ findings or the propriety of the condemnation.
The Condemnation Process in Arlington, Texas
The condemnation process takes place in three stages: the pre-condemnation negotiation, special commissioners’ hearing, and the actual litigation. It is important to have the representation of our Arlington eminent domain attorney through all stages of the process. Our experienced lawyers have the depth of skill and resources to defend your interests against the condemning entity and preserve the value of your property.
Pre-Condemnation Purchase Negotiation
Before the government or an authorized private company begins the legal condemnation process, they must make a good faith offer to purchase the property. To comply with Texas statutes, the condemning entity must…
- Make a good faith offer in writing.
- Provide an appraisal from a certified appraiser.
- Within thirty days, make a final offer that is higher than the appraised value.
- Give the property owner 14 days to accept or reject the offer.
You might agree to an offer that is much less than the true fair market value of the property if you do not have the assistance of a knowledgeable Arlington, Texas eminent domain attorney. If you instead reject the government’s proposal, the legal condemnation process will likely begin.
Pre-trial Special Commissioners’ Hearing
Rejecting the government’s proposed purchase price will trigger a special commissioners’ hearing. The court will appoint three local landowners to consider arguments and evidence of the property’s value. The commissioners will then decide the compensation award.
Our seasoned attorneys are committed to obtaining the highest possible compensation for your land. We will have your property independently appraised, thoroughly evaluate the value of the benefit to the public, and calculate the lost value of any remaining property to establish a fair, reasonable amount. The government will present arguments supporting a much lower purchase price, which we will work to counter.
Condemnation Litigation in Arlington
If either party is dissatisfied with the commissioners’ award determination, they have a right to appeal the decision to a trial court. In addition to the compensation award, a landowner could also challenge whether the condemnation was proper.
The most common challenge to the appropriateness of the condemnation is the government’s proposed purpose. According to both United States and Texas law, condemned private property must be used for the benefit of the public good. Some purposes are difficult to challenge, including expanding highways, building hospitals, and running utility lines. However, if the purpose of condemnation is for the economic benefit of a private company or individual, the taking might not be proper.
If the purpose is proper, you could still challenge the taking if your property is not absolutely necessary to fulfill the proposed purpose. Often, the government will attempt to condemn a larger parcel of property than required, which you can challenge as an excessive taking.
Call Our Arlington, TX Eminent Domain Litigation Attorney for a Free Consultation
The government has a right to condemn private property for the benefit of the public. However, this authority is not absolute, and the government must adhere to several statutory requirements. Landowners have rights under both the United States Constitution and Texas law. Our Arlington TX eminent domain litigation attorneys have years of experience in assisting Arlington landowners with the condemnation process. The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. can help you preserve your property’s value or challenge an inappropriate use of eminent domain. Call (817) 476-1797 to schedule a free consultation.