10 Things You Should Know About Eminent Domain and Condemnation
1. "Eminent Domain" is the inherent power of the government to take private property for public use.
2. "Condemnation" is the legal process by which the property is taken.
3. Even though the government has this authority, both the U.S. Constitution (5th Amendment) and the Texas Constitution (Article I, Section 17) guarantee that the property owner must receive just compensation for the property taken.
4. If the government and the property owner cannot agree on the amount of compensation, each has the right to have the courts decide the correct amount through the legal process of condemnation.
5. Eminent Domain only gives the government the right to take private property for legitimate public use. This can include creating public roads, parks, schools, libraries or providing utilities such as electricity or water. In limited circumstances, the government can also take property that is deteriorated to the point of posing a public safety hazard.
6. Eminent Domain authority can sometimes be exercised by a private entity if allowed by law and if the intended project has been deemed to be essentially a public use. Examples of this include oil and gas pipelines and powerlines which will serve as "common carriers" of utilities for the public.
7. Condemnation does not mean there is anything wrong with your property or that it is considered a safety hazard. It just means the government is exercising its right of eminent domain.
8. As the first step in exercising its eminent domain authority, the government must appraise your property to determine what it is worth (i.e. what is "just compensation") and then make you an offer.
9. You have the right to accept or reject the government's offer. Even if you reject the offer, the government usually will still have the right to take your property. However, you have the right to present evidence of why the government's offer is below fair market value and to show what amount would be just and adequate compensation.
10. Although rare, in some cases you can stop the government from taking your property by showing that intended project is not a legitimate public use. Also, some projects are stopped when the condemning entity realizes what it will cost to acquire the property.
For more detailed information on Texas eminent domain, visit http://guides.sll.texas.gov/eminent-domain. For information on Texas versus national eminent domain law, visit http://agrilifecdn.tamu.edu/texasaglaw/files/2017/04/A-Survey-of-Eminent-Domain-Law-in-Texas-and-the-Nation.pdf. You may also see our guide to the 10 Things You Need to Know About Inverse Condemnation at https://www.davidtoddlaw.com/practice_areas/inverse-condemnation-and-regulatory-takings.cfm.
If you have received a notice of condemnation and are at risk of losing your property, contact us today at (512) 472-7799 for a free case evaluation. Discuss your situation and your options with Austin, Texas eminent domain lawyer and condemnation attorney David Todd and discover the difference we can make in helping you obtain full compensation for your property. Learn how to avoid common mistakes that can compromise your case. Let us protect your rights and help put you obtain full value for your property.