Houston Real Estate and Business Law Firm

Highway Expansion Condemnation

Highway Expansion Condemnation Attorney in Houston, Texas

As the Texas economy expands, so does the state's development. This is evident in the construction of public buildings, transit systems, and even highways. But what if this growth and development cost you your home?

You may be facing a highway expansion condemnation lawsuit right now, in which a condemnor will take your private property in order to build a highway on it. If this happens to you, you must understand your rights as a landowner, such as what factors to examine when deciding the appropriate compensation that the condemnor will pay you.

As a result of the complexities of condemnation cases, you will need to seek the help of a Houston eminent domain lawyer from GK Law that will provide you with competent legal assistance and who are experienced when it comes to condemnation laws in Texas.

How can a Houston Eminent Domain Attorney from GK Law Help You?

Condemnation may be stressful for you because the property that they will take from you has sentimental worth to you or is your source of income. You may have plans to change or renovate your property when someone unexpectedly arrives at your door and says they will condemn your land.

You may be concerned that you no longer have a place to reside or a source of income. Don't worry because the law compensates landowners whose private property is condemned for public use.

Now, here is where we come in. 

As a law office committed to assisting clients facing condemnation or an eminent domain case, we are here to provide you with the competent legal assistance you need to determine the adequate compensation you should get.

Our Texas eminent domain and condemnation lawyer is well-versed in Texas Condemnation legislation. Our years of expertise in condemnation cases or issues have made us better qualified to represent you. We understand what factors should be evaluated in order to establish adequate compensation for you.

What is Eminent Domain?

highway expansion condemnation attorney

You may be unfamiliar with this phrase or legal term since you may have heard from someone that their property was seized by the state or a person through eminent domain.

Essentially, this refers to one of a government's inherent powers to compel a landowner to surrender his or her private property to the government for public use.

Condemnation occurs when a government or private group requests or exercises the right of eminent domain in this manner. As a result, condemnation occurs when the government or a person or entity authorized to use eminent domain seizes property.

You may be concerned that the government will seize whatever private property it desires. However, this is not the case since the law specifies three elements or requirements for private property to be legitimately sold to the government.

Three Elements of Eminent Domain

You must keep in mind that the state or government cannot just seize your property in the blink of an eye. They must first meet three requirements: 

  1. the condemnor must have the authority to exercise the power of eminent domain; 
  2. the property taken from a landowner must be used primarily for public use; 
  3. there should be just compensation to the landowner of the private property.

Let us go through each element in order to understand them better.

The condemnor must have the authority to exercise the power of  eminent domain.

It is critical that when someone approaches you and says they want to discuss condemnation of your property, they are either a governmental entity or in a position to carry out the condemnation process through the Texas Legislature. 

So, if someone approaches you and you suspect they are not from the government or cannot provide you with documentation that they are authorized by the state to condemn your property, please contact our Houston condemnation lawyer immediately.

The Property should be intended for public use.

Yes, you read it right. Your property cannot be taken by anyone for their own leisure.

For a property to be condemned, the state or the authorized entity should establish that the private property will be utilized for public use.

Public use as stated in Article I, Section 17 (a) of the Texas Constitution, which states that "No person's property shall be taken, damaged, or destroyed for or applied to public use without adequate compensation being made, unless by the consent of such person, and only if the taking, damage, or destruction is for: (1) the ownership, use, and enjoyment of the property, notwithstanding an incidental use, by: (A) the State, a political subdivision of the State, or the public at large; or (B) an entity granted the power of eminent domain under law; or (2) the elimination of urban blight on a particular parcel of property."

The most common examples of a property being utilized for public use include railways, highways, public transit, airports, electric lines, schools, public parks, hospitals, arenas, drainage, electric lines, and others.

Remember that the quantity or type of property condemned is determined by the specific public use.

Furthermore, the word "public use" is not applicable to the condemnation of property for the sole purpose of economic growth or tax revenue increase. However, it may be considered for public use if it serves a secondary purpose rather than the main one.

There must be just compensation given to the landowner.

The state or an entity (condemnor) cannot just condemn your private property easily. They must provide you with adequate compensation for the property that they will condemn. But, you may wonder, what constitutes adequate compensation? There are several factors to consider when determining if the compensation you will be getting is fair to all concerned. The following are common considerations:

  • Market Value of the Property 

They cannot just put a price of their choosing on the compensation they will offer you. They are required to adhere to the so-called "Market Value of the Property." This is the actual worth of your property when it is put up for sale on the open market. Remember that market value fluctuates over time. In condemnation cases, the market value at the time of the taking will be the only one considered.

  • Remainder Damages 

This essentially refers to a drop in the value of private properties. This is often employed when only a portion of the property has been seized from the landowner. As a result, the compensation will include not only the portion of the full land that was removed but also the 'remainder damages.'

For example, the portion of your land that was seized from you was the only land with access to the roadway. Such events are now considered remainder damages, which can be added to the amount they owe you.

  • Moving or Relocation Expenses

If the condemnation of your property has rendered you permanently displaced, then you can seek moving and relocation expenses. This includes relocation payments of housing assistance.

Now considering all you have learned, and you think that you did not receive adequate compensation or that you feel that not all of the three elements were present, then we would suggest calling a Houston eminent domain attorney immediately. 

What are the Phases in Condemnation Proceedings in Texas?

If you are facing a condemnation case, it is critical that you understand the various stages of the condemnation process. This will assist you in determining which phase you are in and what measures you should take.

Phase 1: Offer and Negotiations. 

During this stage, Texas eminent domain law requires a condemnor to make a reasonable offer to the landowner in order to purchase the property. To meet the criteria of a bona fide offer, the firm seeking to invoke eminent domain must make an initial written offer to acquire the land. Furthermore, before making a final written offer, they should seek the assistance of a licensed appraiser to obtain a land valuation of the property.

Remember that at least 30 days must elapse between the original offer and the final offer. The landowner must have at least 14 days to communicate his/her decision to the final offer before a condemnation case may be started.

According to Texas law, a condemnor is required to furnish the landowner with specific information at the time of the final offer, such as a copy of any appraisal relevant to the land completed in the past ten years. Furthermore, the corporation must deliver a copy of the Texas Landowner Bill of Rights to the owners. Landowners who are facing an eminent domain case should make certain that they obtain the papers to which they are entitled.

If the negotiations did not reach a conclusion, the condemnor could now file for condemnation proceedings. 

Phase 2: Condemnation Petition Filing

Suppose no conclusion has been reached between both parties, the condemnor will have the option to file for a condemnation petition in the district court where the land is located.

Keep in mind that even though a condemnation petition has been filed, talks may still take place.

Phase 3: Special Commissioner Appointment, Hearing, and Award

Following the filing of the petition, a court will select three local landowners to serve as "special commissioners" to determine the adequate compensation for the private property. Keep in mind that special commissioners are appointed by the judge to serve exclusively in a certain condemnation procedure. They lack the legal power to evaluate legal concerns such as the appropriateness of the condemnation.

They will weigh the various factors in order to decide the adequate compensation that will be given to the landowner. This may include the property's worth, monetary harm to the property owner, remainder damages, and so on.

Following the conclusion of the hearing, the commissioners must issue an award stating the amount to be paid by the condemnor to the landowner for the easement. After that, the compensation award is submitted to the court.

Phase 4: Award Filing and Objections Permitted

If either party is unsatisfied with the commissioners' decision, they can file an objection with the court. It should be emphasized that objections must be made on or before the first Monday following the 20th day from the day the commissioners' determination is filed with the court.

Phase 5: Trial by Judge or Jury and Appeals

This stage will only be required if either side raises an objection. It is at this point that a landowner can contest matters other than compensation, such as whether the entity has the right to exercise eminent domain or whether the land would be taken for public use.

Following the conclusion of the trial and the rendering of a judgment, either of the parties has the right to appeal the verdict.

Get the Adequate Compensation you Deserve Now!

We have always taken pride in the quality legal advice and representation provided by our Houston eminent domain attorney at GK Law. We have devoted our years of experience to assisting people like you with condemnation concerns or eminent domain cases. Our attorneys have proven their capabilities in trial or litigation. Our attorneys are experienced in business law, real estate law, and eminent domain.

So let us fight for your legal rights by scheduling a consultation with us!

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