Landowner Rights For Individuals Facing Condemnation

In Texas, eminent domain laws allow for the government or a private entity authorized by the government to “condemn” or take private property for the benefit of public use. Under the U.S. Constitution, though, a government entity is not legally allowed to take a private landowner’s property without compensation. What are the landowner rights for individuals facing condemnation in Texas?

The condemnation process is outlined in Chapter 21 of the Texas Property Code. Property may be taken for several reasons, such as:

  • To build infrastructure, such as highways, bridges or railroads.
  • For utility projects, such as water and sewer lines, gas pipelines, or electric transmission lines.
  • Building large-scale commercial projects that have public benefit, such as arenas, shopping centers or ballparks.

In some cases, a government entity may condemn the landowner’s entire parcel of land; other times, it may just seek part of the land or an easement. No matter how much or how little of your land is being condemned, Texas landowners have the right to just compensation for that property.

Landowner Rights for individuals facing eminent domain takings according to the Texas Landowners’ Bill of Rights include:

  • The right to adequate compensation for property taken for a public use.
  • Property can only be taken for a public use.
  • Property can only be taken by a government authority or private entity authorized by a government authority.
  • The entity that seeks the property must give notification to the landowner of its interest.
  • The entity must provide the landowner with an assessment of adequate compensation for the property.
  • The entity proposing condemnation of the property must make a good faith effort to buy it.
  • The landowner has the right to hire a Texas eminent domain attorney to negotiate with the condemning authority.
  • The landowner is entitled to a hearing before a court-appointed panel of 3 special commissioners before the property is condemned. This panel must determine the amount of compensation owed to the landowner. This includes compensation that should be paid for any reduction in value to the landowner’s remaining property.
  • The landowner has the right to trial by judge or jury if he or she is not satisfied by the special commissioners’ decision. The trial court’s judgment may also be appealed if that decision is found unsatisfactory.

If you are a landowner who has been notified that your property is facing condemnation, the Texas eminent domain lawyers at Dawson & Sodd can help you decide how to proceed. Our experienced condemnation attorneys understand landowner rights for individuals facing condemnation and can guide you through the process to help ensure just, fair and full compensation for your property. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.