Your Rights During Condemnation Proceedings
Above all, a Condemnee should recognize that in Texas, condemnation is an adversarial system. Each party is responsible for advocating their own rights. However, the Condemnor cannot unilaterally decide to take your land without any judicial review.
Has the Condemnor notified you that your property is designated to be acquired for public use or that if you do not accept their offer that condemnation proceedings will be brought against you and your property? If so, you have the right to contact a condemnation attorney before evaluating any offer.
The government and certain privately owned companies have the power of Eminent Domain. However, the Condemnor must follow certain procedures designed to protect each property owner's rights, as provided under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article ___ Section ___ of the Texas Constitution. Some Condemnor's, such as the Texas Department of Transportation (often referred to as TxDOT or the Highway Department) promulgate a “Right of Way Manual” which officially sets out their positions as guidelines for their employees, their right of way negotiators, and their appraisers. The “Right of Way Manual” is complete with instructions on what TxDOT employees, their right of way negotiators, and their appraisers are to do, and what forms that they must fill in to meet TxDOT requirements.
Many owners’ primary source of information is from the Condemnor’s representatives, who are often knowledgeable, career professionals and committed public servants. They are not, however, likely to be privy to all information relevant to compensation issues, nor charged by law or practice with the duty to assure that each Condemnee receives the maximum compensation allowed by law. Even if they were so charged, they would not be in a position to assist one Condemnee (such as a lender/lienholder or tenant) to the detriment of another.
Contact us for a free initial consultation about your case. If you have questions, call Avant & Mitchell at 512-478-5757.