This is a summary of the property condemnation process in Texas using the example of a pipeline company acquiring an easement. If you’d like an appointment with Philip, please call 800-266-4870. You can meet online, in person or by phone.
Summary of the Condemnation Process in Texas
Hello, I’m Philip Hundl, an attorney in Wharton County. My practice mainly concentrates on condemnation and eminent domain. Earlier, I discussed the initial circumstances where a landowner may face a condemnation proceeding or eminent domain action from a private enterprise.
Now, I would like to move onto part two: what occurs when you, the landowner, and the private entity, for instance, a pipeline company, can’t agree on compensation for the pipeline easement you’re granting.
Should negotiations fail, what is the next step? Does the pipeline company have to reroute its pipeline? If the pipeline company possesses the right of eminent domain or condemnation, there’s a process outlined in the Texas property code chapter 21. The steps are as follows:
You Should Receive the Landowner’s Bill of Rights at the Start of the Condemnation Process in Texas
First, you must receive your Landowner’s Bill of Rights. Then, the pipeline company will provide its valuation of your property that it intends to acquire by condemnation. The pipeline company is then obliged to make a final bonafide offer.
This offer should be the highest amount that the pipeline company is willing to offer up to this point. You have a certain period to evaluate this offer and decide whether to accept or reject it. If you choose to reject the offer, the likely next step is the pipeline company filing a condemnation suit against you in the county where your land is located.
The process begins with the serving of the lawsuit. A sheriff, constable, or private process server will deliver the legal papers filed by the pipeline company. Following this, you’ll have a specific period to respond to this lawsuit. Ideally, with the assistance of an attorney who will provide a proper response to the pipeline company’s lawsuit.
Special Commissioners with Meet to Determine Your Property’s Value
Next, the pipeline company will request court-appointed special commissioners to appraise the value of the land to be acquired. This panel of three commissioners, who are also landowners in the county, will usually visit the property and may seek input from industry experts if necessary. They will then determine the property’s value.
How is this done? Through a special commissioner’s hearing where both the pipeline company and the landowner can present testimony or evidence regarding their respective valuations of the property. Taking all this into consideration, the special commissioners will formulate an award representing their assessment of the land’s worth or damages caused by the condemnation action.
If the Condemnor or the Landowner Don’t Agree on the Award, the Next Step is a Trial
Once this award is issued, the landowner can either accept it or lodge an objection. If they choose to object, they must do so promptly and appropriately before proceeding to a final trial by judge or jury.
In conclusion, it’s crucial for landowners to understand their rights when faced with a condemnation action or approached by a private company or governmental entity seeking to acquire their land. These rights are outlined in the Landowner Bill of Rights under Texas property code. There is a procedural process that must be followed, and it is incumbent upon the landowner and his or her attorney to ensure that this condemnation process in Texas is adhered to.
We Can Help You Through the Condemnation Process in Texas
Call 800-266-4870 or text 979-320-9320 for an appointment with Philip Hundl. We’re based in Wharton County, and we help landowners throughout the state. We can schedule your appointment online, by phone or in person.