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Can the government seize or condemn my property

Most people think of dangerous buildings when they hear the word “condemned.” However, condemning a property is often a step in the process of eminent domain. When property owners learn that the government intends to seize their land using eminent domain, it may be a shock, and they are right to learn as much as they can about the process and their limited rights.

Eminent domain allows state of Texas or the federal government to appropriate land from private citizens for projects authorities believe will benefit the common good. Sometimes these projects are public works, such as highways or pipelines. However, some are private endeavors, such as a hotel, if the project owners have convinced authorities the general public will benefit from it.

How they get your land

Authorities must notify property owners of their intent to use the property for a certain project. This is the beginning of the condemnation process. The government must offer a fair price in exchange for the condemned property. The owner may accept the money, called a pro tanto award, but he or she may also take the matter to court, either to contest the amount of money offered or to contest that the condemnation will benefit the public good.

The government must allow private citizens enough time to take these steps before the project work begins. Nevertheless, it is wise for property owners to work quickly when they learn of the government’s intention to condemn their property under eminent domain. Even if the case goes to appeal, the project owner may begin working on the condemned land.