Eminent Domain and Condemnation – 10 Important Details

#1 – When the property is taken by the government, this is considered ‘Condemnation’.

#2 – When the property is taken for public use, this inherent power is called ‘Eminent Domain’.

#3 – If no compensation is agreed between the government and the property owner, each withhold the right to take the case to the courts and let them decide. From here, the courts will listen to both sides before then deciding how to proceed.

#4 – Typically, Eminent Domain is a process started by the government but we must always remember the guarantee that all property owners are due compensation for taken property; this is according to the Texas Constitution Article I (Section 17) as well as the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.

#5 – Although rare, a private entity can exercise Eminent Domain if the project is deemed to be for public use and the law allows. For example, the most common cases we see are the power lines and pipelines belonging to oil and gas companies; they’re considered ‘common carriers’ for utilities.

#6 – With Eminent Domain, the government can only take private property if the public use is legitimate. In the past, we’ve seen utilities, public roads, libraries, schools, and parks as the main reasons. If a deteriorated house is causing a hazard for the public, the government may also be able to take the property for safety reasons.

#7 – As the homeowner, you retain the right to reject the initial offer; if you do reject, the government still holds the right to take your property if the public use is legitimate. However, it means you can show evidence that the offer was below market value and that you deserve a higher level of compensation.

#8 – Rather than suggesting your home is a hazard or that there’s something wrong with the property, condemnation simply suggests the government is exercising their right of Eminent Domain.

#9 – To get the process started, the government will have your property valued to see its worth on the market in its current state (and the current state of the market). From here, ‘just’ compensation will be calculated and you’ll be made an offer.

#10 – If the government is attempting to take your property for a non-legitimate use, you might be able to stop the process altogether. Although rare, the government might also stop the process if they are unwilling to pay the compensation the court will suggest.

When the notice of condemnation first comes through the door, it can be quite a shock but we urge you to remain calm and get in touch with the Attorneys at McDonald Worley and Hill & Hill. Over the years, we’ve developed a superb team of professionals who can assess your case personally and help you to achieve the compensation package you deserve. Often, homeowners make critical errors so having professional and reliable help by your side keeps your case in the best position for success!

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