As a Texas landowner, you should feel fairly confident that neither local, state or federal government officials can take your land away from you. Generally speaking, the right to your own property without unreasonable government interference ranks alongside your rights to life and liberty. However, under certain circumstances, the government has the right to take either all or a portion of your land for public use via a process called eminent domain.

The government cannot just take your property for no reason, however. It has to be for a project that benefits the whole community in some way, such as projects to increase or improve access to the public water supply or facilitate transportation.

In addition, the government cannot take your land without compensating it for you justly. If the government desires the acquisition of your property, it must first approach you and initiate negotiations to purchase it from you. At that point you have one of three choices: you can refuse to sell altogether, you can dispute the fair market value of the land or you can agree to sell your land for the government’s offered price. The former two choices require you to attend a court hearing.

There are different types of government takings of property that can occur. Sometimes the government only needs the land for a specific period of time, in which case a temporary taking may take place. Sometimes the government only wants a portion of the property, which can result in a partial taking. A complete taking involves the purchase of the entire property.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.