It’s common knowledge that the government can acquire private property for public use. However, they have to compensate the property’s owner as stated in the Fifth Amendment. The constitution provides for just compensation which may be open to interpretation.
Technically, the compensation is not supposed to enrich you. Instead, it should make you whole again for the economic loss you suffered from losing the property.
How is the fair market value decided?
Valuation of property in an eminent domain case is sometimes a complex affair. The property owner might disagree with the government’s valuation of their property. Experts may have to be involved and even testify since land valuation is not so straightforward. Several factors are considered, including:
- The location and size of the property
- Its current use
- The level of development on the property
- Any potential uses
- Accessibility to the property, among others
Do you have to accept the government’s offer?
You don’t have to accept the government’s initial offer if you think your property has been undervalued.
Texas law states that the acquiring entity has to provide their valuation details to the property owner stating how they arrived at the final figure. If you dispute the valuation, the process will proceed to a special commissioner’s hearing.
What are the possible outcomes?
Usually, it’s hard to stop the government from acquiring land for public use. Getting a higher market value to ensure you are adequately compensated is your best bet in an eminent domain case.
If you are facing government condemnation but feel that the offered amount is too low, you need to be aware of navigating the condemnation proceedings. It is your constitutional right to get full compensation for your property, and you need to act and protect your interests.