Private ownership of land is a right held sacred to most Americans. Government appropriation of land against the owners’ wishes seems to be a clear violation of these rights. However, both state and federal governments do have the power to seize private property when necessary, through a process known as “eminent domain.” Unfortunately, many Texas property owners faced with condemnation proceedings under eminent domain laws do not understand their rights in this process and how to protect their best interests.
Eminent domain, also known as condemnation, is the legal authority that certain entities are granted that allows them to forcibly purchase private property for public use. Eminent domain laws can be invoked to purchase land for projects such as highways, railroads, port expansion, oil and gas pipelines, electric transmission structures, water and storm drainage infrastructure and public parks, and more.
Only a governmental entity or private entity that is authorized by the government may use eminent domain law, and then only for a public purpose. Texas law prohibits condemnation authorities from taking your property to enhance tax revenues or foster economic development.
We Will Protect Your Constitutional Rights
Both the United States Constitution and the Texas State Constitution guarantee the rights of property owners to receive due justice and fair compensation when their property is seized, damaged or destroyed for public use.
Your rights as a property owner in Texas during the condemnation process are spelled out in the State of Texas’ Landowner’s Bill of Rights. This Landowner’s Bill of Rights applies to any attempt by the government or a private entity to take your property. They are:
- You are entitled to receive adequate compensation if your property is taken for a public use.
- Your property can only be taken for a public use.
- Your property can only be taken by a governmental entity or private entity authorized by law to do so.
- The entity that wants to take your property must notify you that it wants to take your property.
- The entity proposing to take your property must provide you with a written appraisal from detailing the adequate compensation you are owed for your property.
- The entity proposing to take your property must make a bona fide offer to buy the property before it files a lawsuit to condemn the property.
- You may hire an appraiser or other professional to determine the value of your property.
- You may hire an attorney to negotiate with the condemning entity and to represent you in any legal proceedings involving the condemnation.
- Before your property is condemned, you are entitled to a hearing before a court appointed panel of special commissioners who will determine the amount of compensation the condemning entity owes for the taking of your property.
- If you are unsatisfied with the compensation awarded by the special commissioners, or if you question whether the taking of your property was proper, you have the right to a trial by a judge or jury. If you are dissatisfied with the trial court’s verdict, you may appeal that decision.
Have You Been Threatened With Eminent Domain in Texas?
If your property is facing condemnation under eminent domain laws, you will want to take steps to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the full compensation you are owed.
The Houston eminent domain lawyers at the law firm of Ricardo N. Gonzalez & Associates have been protecting the rights of property owners involved in eminent domain and other land disputes for over thirty years. Our Texas condemnation attorneys possesses the experience and legal knowledge to effectively represent Texas land owners in a wide range of property rights disputes including:
- Eminent Domain
- Inverse Condemnation
- Land Annexation
- Temporary taking of land
- Zoning Issues
Your property cannot be taken without due process and adequate compensation, even if the condemning entity only wants a portion of your land. In addition to the market value of the property, compensation may also include certain damages if your remaining property’s market value is diminished by the acquisition itself or by the way the condemning entity will use the property.
Houston Eminent Domain Lawyers Serving all Texas Communities
In many cases, the legal issues that arise in a condemnation case can be complicated. If you wish to challenge the condemning entity’s authority to take your property, believe that the amount of compensation being offered for your property is not adequate, or disagree with the decision made at the special commissioners’ hearing, Ricardo N. Gonzalez & Associates is here to help.
We are dedicated to protecting your rights as a property owner. Our highly qualified staff of Texas property rights attorneys will steer you through the complicated condemnation process, make sure the condemning entity is qualified and has followed all the rules, and enlist the aid of appraisers and other professionals to ensure you get the full compensation you are owed for your property.
During the condemnation proceeding, it is critical to ensure that your rights are being protected and your interest are being served every step of the way. Contact the offices of Ricardo N. Gonzalez & Associates today to schedule a free consultation with one of our Texas condemnation attorneys. We will be happy to discuss your case, answer any questions about the condemnation process you may have, and provide professional advice on the best way get the results you desire. Ricardo N. Gonzalez & Associates serves clients all over the state of Texas in property rights disputes.