Experience Matters

What is eminent domain in Texas?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Land Disputes

Whether someone inherits real estate or purchases it, they generally have control over that property.  Someone who owns unimproved land or residential real estate can sell the property to others, arrange for its descent to family members after they die or even use the property as collateral for a loan.

Typically, those who have purchased real estate have total control over that investment and get to decide what happens to the property now and in the future. However, there are scenarios in which outside authorities may take control over real property that belongs to an individual or business. Eminent domain cases can compromise someone’s ownership interest in real property.

What does eminent domain involve?

Texas state statutes allow state agencies to lay claim to real property owned by businesses and individuals. Under eminent domain laws, it is possible to force the sale of real property for the completion of a project.

Projects that lead to eminent domain claims are projects for public benefit, not private development efforts. Developing agencies may request the voluntary sale of properties, but they also have the authority to force the sale of real property through condemnation proceedings. During condemnation, a state agency or other condemning authority uses eminent domain statutes to compel a property owner to sell a property regardless of their wishes. Generally speaking, the property owner should receive the fair market value for the property as part of the process.

How do people handle eminent domain claims?

There are multiple potential solutions to an eminent domain claim against real property. Sometimes, numerous property owners work together to challenge the claim that a project is for the public good. Other times, a particular property owner might question the necessity of acquiring their home or parcel. It is sometimes possible to alter plans to preserve certain properties. Often, the most effective form of recourse available to those facing eminent domain claims against real property is to question the offer. People can go to court and prove that the property should sell for more on the open market than the condemning authority has offered for the sale of the property.

All too often, those facing condemnation make the mistake of giving up and agreeing to sell their property for less than it is worth. Initiating real estate litigation can be a reasonable reaction to an unfavorable purchase offer extended under Texas eminent domain laws. Property owners who understand the rules for eminent domain cases may have a better chance of securing a favorable outcome.