Can the City of Dallas Take Your Land?
Under certain circumstances, the government, including the city of Dallas or an authorized entity, has the power to take your land. This authority, known as eminent domain, is granted by both the United States and the Texas State Constitution.
The Dallas, TX eminent domain litigation attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. discuss.
Eminent Domain in Dallas, Texas
When the government exercises its eminent domain authority, it engages in condemnation. Texas law requires three elements to exercise the power of eminent domain:
- The power must be used by the government or an authorized private entity.
- The private land must be taken for public use.
- The property owner must receive adequate compensation for the condemned property.
Property Owner’s Rights and the Condemnation Procedure
The city of Dallas has to follow specific rules and procedures to take your private property. The processes for condemnation in Dallas are specified in Chapter 21 of the Texas Property Code. The State of Texas also has the Landowner’s Bill of Rights, containing ten specific provisions to protect property owners including:
- Only government agencies or approved authorized entities can seize private property.
- Private property can only be condemned for public use.
- Landowners must be notified of the intent to condemn.
- Before condemnation, the taking party must make a good faith purchase attempt.
- Property owners are entitled to legal representation, full hearings, and professional appraisals of their property.
- Property owners have a right to challenge the compensation or condemnation at a trial before a judge or jury.
The Bona Fide Offer and Negotiations
Before beginning legal condemnation proceedings, the city of Dallas must make a “bona fide” offer to purchase your property. To comply with the statutory requirements, Dallas must make an initial written offer, provide an appraisal from a certified appraiser listing the value of your property, and make a final offer that is greater than the appraised value. Dallas must allow at least 30 days between the first and final offers, and you must be given at least 14 days to consider the final offer before Dallas commences a condemnation case.
We highly recommend retaining our experienced eminent domain attorney during this process, along with hiring your own appraiser to ensure the value of the property is accurate. Without the assistance of a knowledgeable Dallas attorney, you might accept an offer that is much less than the compensation you deserve. It is important to remember that you are not required to accept the proposed purchase price.
If you agree to Dallas’ offer, then there is no need for the condemnation process to continue. Your land is sold for compensation offered through a typical real estate transaction. However, if you are unable to agree, then Dallas will initiate the condemnation process.
The Condemnation Petition
The formal condemnation process begins with Dallas filing a petition in either the district court or the county court where the property is located. The petition will include the description of your property, the public purpose for the taking, your name, and certify that you received both the Landowner’s Bill of Rights and a bona fide offer.
Special Commissioner’s Hearing and Award
After Dallas files the condemnation petition, the court will appoint three local landowners as special commissioners to determine the appropriate compensation. It is important to note that the commissioners do not have the authority to consider whether the condemnation was proper. During a hearing, the commissioners will consider the evidence of the value of your property, any other monetary damages sustained, the benefit to Dallas, and the purpose of the condemnation to establish an adequate amount.
Having the assistance of our seasoned eminent domain attorney will help ensure you receive the highest value for your property. The city of Dallas will provide evidence and arguments supporting the lowest amount possible. We will thoroughly analyze every factor of the transaction, your land, and the proposed purpose to fight for your proper compensation.
Once the commissioners have heard all of the evidence and arguments, they will issue a decision stating the value of compensation.
Objections to the Commissioners Findings
If either you or the city of Dallas is unhappy with the award, the dissatisfied party has the right to file an objection with the court. Upon the filing of an objection, the condemnation case will be scheduled for trial either before a jury or a judge.
The Condemnation Trial
You have a right to challenge the commissioners’ determination of compensation. In addition to the compensation, you can challenge the taking of your property by filing a motion to dismiss the condemnation proceeding. The two common challenges to the proceeding are whether the entity has the legal standing to condemn your property or the proposed purpose does not qualify as public use. Unlike the special commissioners, the trial judge or jury can consider whether the condemnation was improper.
Call Our Eminent Domain and Real Estate Attorney in Dallas
The city of Dallas, as a government entity, has the authority to condemn your property by exercising eminent domain. If the government is threatening to take your private property, our knowledgeable attorneys have the depth of skill to ensure you receive the proper compensation or determine if a legitimate basis for challenging the condemnation exists. Contact The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. to learn more about our services and how we can help you. Call (817) 476-1797 to schedule a free consultation.