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The Process Of Eminent Domain In Texas

Normally, the organization with condemnation power, also known as the “Condemner” undertakes a Public Project and estimates the requirements as to whether it needs any of the private lands in order to successfully complete its project. The specifics of the project like exact location and the private land that will be required may take a very long time to finalize. In certain circumstances, the landowners are consulted and given an opportunity to give input to finalize the final location of the project. They are required to participate in the proceedings that are conducted by the “Condemner”.

After finalizing the specifics of the location,texas eminent domain laws the Condemner makes a formal declaration that the land owned by certain private property owners needs to be acquired as a necessity to successfully complete the said project. He also notifies the concerned private property owners.

The real estate appraisal of the entire property along with specific property rights that he seeks is ordered by the “condemner”. The land acquisition agent then utilizes the appraisal amount to make an offer to purchase the property required to complete the project from the private property owner. This offer is made in order to satisfy the requirement that condemner has negotiated ‘in good faith ‘with the private property owner.

Such an offer made by the land acquisition agent may be time bound and requires the private property owner to respond within the stipulated time. This is done to exert pressure on the property owner, It is up to the private property owner to either accept this offer or reject it. The offer letters that are sent by the Condemning organization can be quite intimidating and confusing to the private property owners who are not well versed with the process of condemnation. The Condemner normally ignores to apprise the private property owner about the scope of the different kinds of impacts affecting the remaining part of his private property when partial acquisitions are made for projects such as power lines and Oil and Gas pipelines.

During these negotiations between the condemner and private property owners, the owners are permitted to seek legal counsel, it is strongly recommended that they consult also the private property owner, who may choose to conduct an appraisal by an appraiser of his choice, but is obligated to provide the results to the condemner. The private property owners must consider the non-monetary terms of this deal and not just the monetary term negotiations. At the end of this process if an agreement is reached between the two then the need for eminent domain does not rise and the sale goes through between the parties. In case they are not able to reach an agreement the organization files the condemnation proceedings.

The proceeding is filed in the district court of the county court of law. Upon filing, three local landowners are appointed to preside as special commissioners to assess the adequate compensation. Both the property owner and organization have the option to strike down one out of the three chosen persons. The commissioners can only determine the proper compensation and cannot consider if the condemnation is proper or not. Once the award is made by the commissioners, the organization may take possession pending results of further litigations by paying the required amount to either the owner or court.

In case the company or the landowner is not satisfied with the final outcome, then they can file an objection with the court. This has to be done on or before the first Monday following the 20th day after the day the decision of the commissioners with respect to the property is filed with the court.  [Texas Property Code 21.018].  In case of an objection being filed, the trial for the condemnation case will be set either before a judge or a jury and a verdict will be pronounced. To know more, contact us today.

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