Landowner Rights For Individuals

When the government wants your land, what rights do you have? In Texas, laws protect people’s property from being taken without compensation. The U S Constitution guarantees all citizens due process. It safeguards them from having their properties seized unless they’re given a fair hearing according to the law, which court decisions have upheld many times in recent years.

However, the government can still use its power of eminent domain to take private property for public use.

This often happens in cases where land is needed for infrastructure projects or other community developments. Property owners are entitled to just compensation, determined by current market value in these situations.

Why Can Condemnation Occur?

Chapter 21 of the Texas Property Code outlines the condemnation process and the reasons property may be taken, including:

  • To build infrastructures, like highways, railroads, or bridges.
  • For utility projects like water, sewer, electric lines, or gas pipes.
  • Building large-scale commercial projects with public benefit, such as shopping malls, ballparks, parks, etc.
  • Urban renewal and slum clearance.
  • Public health and safety reasons include removing toxic waste or demolishing dilapidated buildings.

It’s important to note that the government cannot just take your property because they want it; they must have a legitimate public use for the land and must adhere to all laws and due process during the condemnation process. Property owners have the right to negotiate and dispute the terms of compensation and the public use justification in court.

The Texas Landowners' Bill Of Rights

The Texas Landowners’ Bill of Rights provides landowners facing eminent domain takings with certain landowner rights, including:

  1. Receiving adequate compensation if a landowner’s property is condemned.
  2. Property can only be condemned for public use.
  3. Your property can only be condemned by a governmental or private entity authorized by law.
  4. The landowner must be notified by the entity intending to condemn the property.
  5. The landowner must be provided with a written appraisal from a certified appraiser detailing the adequate compensation owed for the property.
  6. Landowners may file a written complaint about misconduct with the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) under section 1101.205 of the Texas Occupations Code.
  7. The condemning entity must make an offer to buy the property before filing a lawsuit to condemn the property.
  8. Landowners may hire an appraiser or other professional to determine your property’s value or assist in any condemnation proceeding.
  9. Landowners may hire an attorney to negotiate and represent them in any legal proceedings involving the condemnation.
  10. Before being condemned, a landowner is entitled to a hearing before a court-appointed panel of three special commissioners.
  11. If unsatisfied with the compensation awarded by the special commissioners, or if there is a question of whether the condemnation of the property was proper, landowners have the right to a trial by a judge or jury.

While the government does have the power of an eminent domain, landowners in Texas still have rights and protections against unfair condemnations. It’s important to understand your rights as a property owner and seek professional assistance from an experienced team like that at OAG if you believe your property may be subject to condemnation.

Eminent Domain In Texas Q & A:

The short answer is Yes. However, while the United States and Texas Constitutions provide for a government’s right to take land, there are specific requirements that must be met.

While Texas land owners have every right to negotiate with a authorities without the help of an experienced team, it is not recommended. A group focused on law pertaining to eminent domain will know how best protect your interests during negotiations which could result in less than optimal compensation for what you are offering up front

The government has the right to take private property for public use. This includes utility companies, counties and municipal governments amongst others; they can exercise “eminent domain” (the formal name) if it’s in the public interest or need. This means there are some limits on when this law applies! 

When the state of Texas takes your property through eminent domain, they must have a purpose for taking it. The most common reasons are transportation projects like highways and bridges; water/waste water construction such as dams or treatment plants (which also includes electricity generation); utility work that maintains power supply, and other similar projects.

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