If you own property in the City of Houston, you may not expect that your property could be taken for use by the city. However, using the power of eminent domain, there is a chance that a portion or all of your property could be seized to be used for a public purpose. If your property has become the target of an eminent domain action, you should consult with an experienced Houston eminent domain litigation attorney as soon as possible. The Queenan Law Firm, P.C., understands how an eminent domain action can worry a property owner, and we are here to help you explore your options to keep your land. Our firm is here to explain whether the City of Houston can force you to sell your property.
Property Owner Rights Against Eminent Domain in the City of Houston
Eminent domain is a legal process where a government may seize a property owner’s land for the benefit of the public. For example, the City of Houston may use an eminent domain action in order to seize part of a landowner’s property to create a new road. To understand how eminent domain works in the City of Houston and across the United States, a landowner should look to the Texas Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.
In the State of Texas, the powers of eminent domain can be exercised by a number of government entities, from federal and state agencies to school districts and counties. Additionally, the government may bestow authority upon a non-government entity to allow the entity to execute an eminent domain action.
A property owner that is unfamiliar with the eminent domain process may believe that the government will be able to take their property without resistance. As a result, a property owner may agree to sell their home or a portion of their land for an unfair price. Fortunately, the Texas Constitution provides a broad range of protection for property owners. For example, a government cannot take property without providing a valid public use and adequately compensating a property owner.
Other eminent domain safeguards provided by the Texas Constitution:
- Property owner can hire a private appraiser to value the property
- The property owner can hire a lawyer to handle the eminent domain business litigation
- A hearing can be held if the property owner is not satisfied with the final offer for the property
This is not an exhaustive list. Our Houston, TX eminent domain litigation attorneys can help you through the condemnation process against your property. To learn how the condemnation process is conducted, continue reading below.
Eminent Domain Condemnation Process in Houston, TX
If your property is subject to an eminent domain action, you should be aware of how the condemnation process operates. There are multiple stages to condemnation in the State of Texas.
The first phase is when the government offers the property owner compensation for the property. Specifically, the government must first seek a certified appraisal of the property to determine its value before making the offer. The offer itself must be in good faith, meaning that the amount offered must be considered just compensation in comparison to the value of the property. Unfortunately, many final offers for private property do not provide the owner with the appropriate value of the property. This can be stressful as the property owner will be required to accept or deny the offer typically within 14 days.
While you can refuse to accept the initial offer, this will allow the government to continue with the condemnation process. In the next phase of the condemnation process, a special commissioner’s hearing will be held to determine adequate compensation for the property. The three special commissioners chosen will consist of local landowners that will listen to arguments concerning the price of the property in question.
At this stage, it is vital for a property owner to have extensive evidence showing that their property is worth more than the value appraised by the government. For example, if the property was recently improved or the value of homes in the neighborhood recently increased, this can help prove the owner’s case. After hearing arguments from both sides, the special commissioners will determine the value of the property.
If the special commissioners agreed on a price that you believe it insufficient, you could appeal their decision and seek eminent domain litigation. You may also challenge the eminent domain action on other terms. For example, if you believe the government has not presented a valid public use for the private property, you may present this argument in court.
Our firm is here to help you protect your property from an eminent domain action that may unjustly deprive you of your property.
Contact Our Experienced Houston Eminent Domain Litigation Lawyer to Protect Your Property
If the City of Houston is attempting to seize your property through eminent domain, contact an experienced eminent domain litigation lawyer. The Queenan Law Firm, P.C., is here to offer you the legal representation necessary to combat an eminent domain action by the City of Houston. You should not have to give up your home under unreasonable circumstances due to a request by the city. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your eminent domain action, contact the Queenan Law Firm, P.C. at (817) 774-9627. You may also contact our legal team by using our online submission form.