The Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) and other private property rights proponents will continue to present their concerns about the eminent domain process between private companies and landowners during the 2019 Texas legislative session, according to an article on the TFB website.
During the last legislative session, TFB state directors Mark Chamblee and Neil Walter testified before the Texas House Land and Resource Management Committee voicing their concerns about “lowball” offers made to property owners.
Protect Landowners from “Lowball” Offers
Entities with eminent domain authority often make an initial offer that can be far below the actual value of the land, hoping the property owner will accept this first deal. They may also threaten the property owners with a lawsuit to coerce them into accepting a lower than marketplace value price for their land. In many instances, the landowners don’t have the resources to fight back. In Texas, it is the landowner’s responsibility to hire the appraisers, attorneys, etc. to determine the fair market value of their land.
Chamblee and his associates asked the legislature to consider penalties for entities to deter the practice of making unfairly low offers and putting pressures on land owners to accept them.
Make the Eminent Domain Process More Transparent
Another issue discussed is the lack of an official process in condemnation proceedings by private corporations. Among other things, Texas Farm Bureau wants to require private corporations to hold public meetings just like the Texas DoT and other public entities.
“Why aren’t private companies held to the same standard?” Chamblee asked. “A clear and public explanation of the project and standard contract terms would give landowners more confidence in fair, informed deals.”
Minimum Standards for Easement Terms
Finally, Texas Farm Bureau asked the legislature to establish a minimum of standard easement terms in every contract. Currently, there are no minimum requirements for landowner protections in easement agreements. In fact, entities often leave these protections out of their initial contracts on purpose — they want any protections to be in favor of the entity rather than the landowner.
Chamblee and Texas Farm Bureau plan to continue their efforts to convince the Texas Legislature to adopt property laws that offer greater protections to state landowners during the 2019 session.
Dawson & Sodd Has Been Protecting Texas Land Owners For Over A Century
Has a government entity or private company with eminent domain authority made an offer for your land that is quite a bit less than the going market rate? The U.S. and Texas state Constitutions require that property owners must be fairly compensated. If you feel that your concerns are being ignored, contact an experienced Texas eminent domain attorney.
At Dawson & Sodd, we’ve been protecting Texas landowners for over a century. We possess the legal expertise and resources to ensure your rights are protected and your concerns are addressed. Before you agree to anything, contact our law offices to schedule a free consultation with one of our Texas property rights attorneys.