- Seek professional legal advice from an attorney who is experienced in handling eminent domain cases. Every project and every tract of land is unique, and property owners often benefit from the individualized advice that an attorney can provide. In our experience, property owners who retain legal counsel often obtain significantly better offers and easement terms than those without.
- Consult with fellow property owners. Condemnors often try to keep each tract isolated, but by talking with your friends and neighbors you can often find out valuable information about the project and your options.
- Join a landowner organization. Groups like the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Wildlife Association and others have regular events where the topic of eminent domain is discussed. It’s also a great place to talk with other property owners who have been through the process before!
- Most times you do not get an appraisal with your initial offer, but you will get one with your final offer. It’s required by law. Don’t forget to think about “damages to the remainder,” i.e. how much will the easement devalue the rest of your property. Often they do not include this, even in the appraisals.
- Carefully review the terms of the easement. Condemnors often provide lax terms that benefit themselves. Ensure your property is protected by including specific provisions. The Pipeline Easement Checklist PDF is a great guide.
- If you do not accept the final offer, the condemnor will sue you. Don’t be intimidated! It’s just another step in the process and leads to a Special Commissioner’s Hearing.
- Stay the course! It’s often a long tedious and process, but property owners who seek assistance and know their rights are often better compensated and better protected in the long term.
Property owners faced with the threat of eminent domain often ask for our advice on how to best handle the process. Below are a few resources and tips if you find yourself in the path of project with eminent domain.