In the United States, the government has the right to take private property for public use. This is known as the right of “eminent domain.” In Texas, private entities may also be able to exercise the right of eminent domain if the project is deemed to fall under the umbrella of “public use.”

Once the government or private entity decides that a piece of private property is needed for a public use, a process known as “condemnation” begins. In Texas there are three phases of condemnation.

Phase 1: Negotiation

The first phase of condemnation involves negotiations between the person who owns the property needed for a public use and the condemnor. Ultimately, the condemnor must provide the property owner with a written “bona fide” offer for fair compensation. In addition, the condemnor must provide the property owner with a written, certified appraisal of the value of the property.

Phase 2: Hearing

The second phase of condemnation involve a Special Commissioners’ hearing. This will take place if negotiations fail, meaning that the property owner and condemnor could not come to an agreement on how much the property is worth. In this phase, the condmenor will file a petition. Then, three commissioners will be chosen to decide on how much the property is worth, along with any damages.

Phase 3: Appeal

The third phase of condemnation is an appeal via a civil condemnation claim. If either the condemnor or the property owner does not agree with the decision made at the Special Commissioners’ hearing, they can file a civil condemnation lawsuit. It is important to note that each party to a civil condemnation claim must pay for their own attorneys’ fees.

Property owners deserve fair compensation

Property owners who are facing condemnation often feel frustrated. Determining what is “fair” is not always easy. It is important to know that attorneys are available to help property owners in such situations reach a positive outcome. Oftentimes this means collaborating with other professionals such as real estate experts in order to obtain favorable results. Our firms website on eminent domain and condemnation provides more information for property owners interested in this topic.