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When can the government legally take your property?

When does the government have a right to take your property? Texans feeling nervous about the possibility of either a Bullet Train or a border wall running through their backyard may also be wondering if they have a legal right to refuse the use of their property if the government comes calling.

The answer isn't as simple as yes or no.

When private property is selected for public use

The government, in a federal, state or local capacity, does actually have the power to take a piece of privately held land and use it for a project that will be for public use through what is called "eminent domain." Rather than a free pass to take any land from any landowner at any time, eminent domain is both defined and limited in the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment also includes the requirements that:

  • Your property cannot be taken and used in a way that benefits a private party, and
  • You must be given a fair amount of compensation for your property.

When compensation becomes complicated

However, while the state laws in Texas do require that either consent must be given or adequate compensation must be made to the landowner before their property can be taken and damaged or destroyed in service of a public use project, the guidelines for determining what an adequate amount of compensation is for the land in question are less well defined. Some landowners end up feeling that they have no choice but to accept any amount of compensation offered for land they may not want to give up.

If you are a landowner who has been approached about your property being taken under the use of eminent domain, you may have a legal right to challenge this process. Contact our offices today to request a free consultation regarding your property rights in Texas  with an attorney who understands cases of eminent domain or condemnation. We want to hear your side of the story.

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