Frequently, the government is unable to agree with the property owner on a price for the property. If an agreement on price cannot be reached, the government must then file a petition for condemnation in court.
If the case later goes to trial, the court may be required to determine whether the government met the requirement of making a the “bona fide" (good faith) offer to the landowner. To satisfy the bona fide offer requirement, the government must follow the following steps: (1) make an initial good faith offer in writing; (2) obtain a written appraisal of the value of the property being acquired—and the damages to the remaining property—from a certified appraiser; (3) make a final written offer (along with a copy of the appraisal and the proposed deed, easement, or conveyance if these have not been previously provided) at least 30 days after the initial offer—which is equal to or greater than the appraised value; and (4) give the property owner at least 14 days to respond to this final offer. Texas Property Code, Section 21.012, requires the government to state in the condemnation petition that it attempted but failed to reach an agreement on the price of the property. Failing to reach an agreement on price does not automatically create a cause of action by the landowner against the government for failure to negotiate in good faith.
The condemning entity must also send the landowner a copy of the Texas “Landowner's Bill of Rights”. This must be sent to the last known address of the person in whose name the property is listed on the property tax rolls and must be sent by first class mail either before or along with the condemning entity’s final offer. The statement must be in a legible font and type size. If the condemning entity is a public entity, it must make the Landowner’s Bill of Rights available on its website. Click this link to review the Texas Landowner Bill of Rights.
Learn how to protect yourself when a company or the government wants to take your land by clicking to download your free copy of the Texas Eminent Domain Guide.