Professional Legal Advice and Effective Representation in Texas Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law
“…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” – Fifth Amendment, U.S. Constitution
This excerpt from the Bill of Rights, known as the Takings Clause, provides us with two main requirements for the exercise of eminent domain: the taking must be for a “public use,” and the property owner must be given “just compensation.” Much of the practice at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wright focuses on these questions. We make sure that any proposed taking is done by an appropriate condemning agency for a proper public use, and we work to see to it that the maximum amount of compensation is obtained for our clients. To accomplish this, we represent property owners through every stage of the condemning process, which often includes pre-hearing negotiations and representation in both administrative and judicial proceedings.
The Texas Condemnation Process and How We Can Help
The first time you are made aware that a condemning entity wishes to acquire your property may be when you receive a request from the agency to gain entry to your property for survey or appraisal purposes, or it may be simply when you receive an offer to purchase your property. You generally have the right to deny access to your property, although certain condemning agencies have the right to seek a court order to allow them entry to your property even over your objection.
When you receive an offer in lieu of condemnation to purchase all of your property or just a portion of it, you can accept or reject the offer, or make a counter-offer and try to negotiate a better price. Property valuation is a complex matter, and experienced legal representation can help you at this stage to make sure your property is appropriately valuated and to negotiate a fair price.
If you reject the entity’s offer in lieu of condemnation, they are likely to initiate a suit to condemn the property by filing a Statement of Petition for Condemnation in the local county or district court. Once this happens, the court appoints three disinterested property owners in the county to serve as Special Commissioners. These Special Commissioners are sworn under oath to decide issues of property value fairly and impartially.
The Special Commissioners hold a hearing to which all interested persons (owners, landlords, tenants, lienholders, etc.) are notified. Appraisals are submitted, and expert witnesses are heard. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Special Commissioners make an Award of what they consider to be just compensation for the property.
There are critical strategic and tactical considerations involved in the decision whether or not to attend the hearing. It is therefore vital to retain an attorney who is experienced in condemnation matters long before the hearing, so that you will be well-prepared and make the best choices appropriate to your particular situation.
If not satisfied with the Award of the Special Commissioners, the landowner may file for a trial de novo with the trial court. This is not so much an appeal as it is a new trial. The judge or jury decides for itself the fair market value of the property as well as any damages that may be available. The judgment of the court can also be appealed if necessary.
Experienced Texas Condemnation Attorneys Committed to Just Compensation for Your Property
With their unique issues and dual administrative-judicial process, Texas condemnation proceedings are a specialized type of litigation that require a great deal of background knowledge and a thorough understanding of the strategy involved in a successful case. At the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wright, our attorneys apply decades of experience in Texas condemnation proceedings to the resolution of your particular matter. If you have been approached with an offer to purchase your property, or if you have been served with notice of eminent domain or condemnation of all or part of your property, contact the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wright in the Dallas area for a complimentary consultation with one of our attorneys.