Like many homeowners, you probably bought your house with the intention of living in it for as long as you want. But here you are, receiving a notice stating that your property will soon be seized through Texas condemnation law. In other words, it’s being taken away from you. But how could this be? You even wonder aloud, “Is it possible for private property to be taken like that?”
The short answer is yes, even if your property is in good condition and even if you did nothing wrong. But the good news is that you, as the property owner, have rights during every step of the process — including complying with the order or fighting it in court.
What Is Condemnation?
Condemnation refers to the temporary or permanent legal acquisition of private property by a private entity or local, state, or federal government. Essentially, the property you’ve owned for years is being transferred to a new owner to satisfy a specific need. United States law gives the government the right to condemn property, and the original owner does not have to consent to the seizure.
With that said, the seizing entity must prove to a judge and sometimes a jury that taking the property is necessary. From there, the property owner has the right to dispute the legalities of their unique situation or dispute the government’s appraisal of their property.
Condemnation doesn’t always look the same for everybody, but here are a few reasons why a home might face condemnation:
- The property is considered unsafe — We typically hear the term “condemned” when referring to abandoned, dilapidated, or severely damaged houses, buildings, or other structures that are no longer safe to occupy. Whether due to deterioration over time or structural damage from a fire or earthquake, a piece of property can be condemned because it is a potential safety concern for anyone who tries to live there and a hazard for nearby structures and the general public.
- Code violations — All existing homes and new construction must meet minimum building code requirements and safety regulations or risk being condemned. Examples of code violations might include improper construction techniques, faulty electrical systems, inadequate plumbing, improper ventilation, etc.
- Property owner default — Years of unpaid property tax liens and other issues could lead to condemnation.
- Zoning or land-use changes — Condemnation may also be necessary if a property is rezoned for commercial or industrial use or encroaches on land that has been designated as protected.
- Eminent domain — With eminent domain, the government intends to take land for public or private use. A few reasons why eminent domain may be exercised would be to expand and improve road systems, install or maintain infrastructure for utilities, and build schools, hospitals, etc. When the government exercises eminent domain, it must give the owner a monetary offer for the property’s fair market value in exchange.
What Options Do I Have With Condemnation?
Condemnation can be frustrating for homeowners and landowners, especially when they have no intention of relinquishing ownership of the property, feel as if the process is being done illegally, or aren’t satisfied with the eminent domain compensation they received. Since the reasons for condemnation vary from one case to the next, you must visit with one of our real estate attorneys at Christman Attorneys, PLLC, as soon as you receive a notice of condemnation. Options that exist include:
- Contesting the condemnation in court
- Resolve issues that may have triggered the condemnation
- Fighting for just compensation in court
It is important to have effective representation in any real estate dispute. Christman Attorneys, PLLC, has extensive experience in all areas of real estate law. We represent buyers and sellers in commercial and residential real estate contracts, assist parties in negotiating contracts, advise clients on title and property matters, and represent residential and commercial real estate developers.
We also litigate disputes, including boundary disputes, contested appraisals, suits arising from breach of contract, condemnation proceedings, failure to close, title defects, breach of warranty, construction defects, liens, foreclosure, adverse possession, condemnation, and recording issues.
Please call Christman Attorneys, PLLC, for your legal needs today!
Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation. The material on this website and in this or any blog article we publish are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The attorneys at Christman Attorneys PLLC believe in tailoring legal advice and solutions to your own personal circumstances.
We have an unwavering commitment to helping our clients at each stage of their legal situation.