Eminent domain is the right of the government, granted by both the laws of the United States and the State of Texas, to take private land for the public benefit. Some private companies acting with government authorization, such as electrical or water providers, are also able to exercise eminent domain. If the government threatens your land, you need the services of our Houston eminent domain litigation attorney to represent you throughout this complicated process.dallas
The attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. have years of experience representing Houston landowners in condemnation 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 Owner’s Rights in Dallas, TX
Chapter 21 of the Texas Property Code outlines the procedures the government is required to follow to condemn private land. More specifically, Texas law lists three elements necessary for the exercise the power of eminent domain to be legal:
- Only the government or an authorized private entity has the right to condemn private property.
- The purpose of condemnation of private property must be for public benefit or public use.
- The condemning authority must adequately compensate the owner of the property.
Additionally, the State of Texas also has a Landowner’s Bill of Rights containing ten specific provisions to protect property owners:
- The property owner is entitled to adequate compensation.
- The purpose of condemnation must benefit the public or public use.
- Only the government or an authorized entity can condemn your land.
- The property owner is entitled to notice before condemnation begins.
- The property owner is entitled to a certified appraisal of the property’s value.
- The property owner is entitled to a bona fide purchase offer before condemnation begins.
- The property owner is entitled to hire their own independent appraiser.
- The property owner is entitled to retain legal representation.
- The property owner is entitled to a hearing if not satisfied with the purchase offer.
- The property owner is entitled to a trial to challenge the compensation award or the appropriateness of the condemnation.
The Condemnation Process in Dallas
We strongly recommended retaining our Dallas eminent domain attorney through all stages of the taking process: the pre-condemnation purchase negotiations, the pre-trial commissioners’ hearing, and the actual litigation. Our experienced lawyers have the depth of skill and resources to defend your interests against the condemning entity and to preserve the value of your property.
Pre-Condemnation Purchase Negotiation
Before the government initiates condemnation litigation, a good faith purchase offer is required. The written proposal requires a certified appraisal followed by a final offer. The property owner has 14 days to either accept or reject the purchase price. Without the assistance of a knowledgeable Dallas attorney, you might agree to an offer that is much less than the fair market value of the property. If you refuse to sell your property for the amount offered, then the government will begin the condemnation process.
Pre-Trial Special Commissioners’ Hearing
Once the condemnation process begins, the court will appoint three special commissioners. The commissioners, local landowners themselves, will hear arguments and be presented evidence to determine the appropriate compensation for your property. The government arguments are going to support the lowest amount possible. After having your property independently appraised, thoroughly evaluating the value of the benefit to the public, and the devaluation of any remaining property, our eminent domain litigation attorneys will argue for a reasonable, fair purchase amount. After the commissioners have heard all of the evidence and arguments, a final compensation award is filed with the court.
Condemnation Litigation in Dallas
You have a right to appeal the commissioners’ determination of compensation. At trial, in addition to the compensation award, you can challenge the condemnation. The most common dispute centers around the government’s proposed purpose.
For the taking to be legal, the proposed plan for the property must benefit the public. Some goals are difficult to challenge, such as expanding highways, building hospitals, and laying utility lines. However, if the benefit is solely for the economic well-being of a particular entity or individual, it might not be for public use. Even with a broad interpretation of “public use,” you can challenge the condemnation of your property if you believe there is no public benefit.
You can also challenge the condemnation of your land if you can show that that property is not necessary to achieve the stated purpose. Furthermore, the taking could be excessive, condemning more property than required. Our knowledgeable attorneys will thoroughly review the proposals’ relation to your land to determine if the government is overreaching.
Call Our Houston Eminent Domain Litigation Attorney for a Free Consultation
The government can condemn your land for the benefit of the public. However, this authority is limited and regulated by statute. Property owners have rights, and our Dallas eminent domain litigation attorneys have a scope of experience to fight for your rights through all the stages of the condemnation process. The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. can help you preserve the fair market value of your land or challenge an improper exercise of eminent domain. Call (817) 476-1797 to schedule a free consultation.