When your property or land is under threat of government condemnation, it can be quite scary and overwhelming – especially when you don’t want to negotiate and sell. Fortunately, in today’s world, there are plenty of steps you can follow to protect yourself and get the best possible outcome. So, if you’re currently in the same boat as thousands of other people whose properties are under threat, then you’ve come to the right place.
As soon as you’re ready, you can read about the steps you need to take below.
Hire a Condemnation Lawyer
It’s common for homeowners and landowners to think that they can handle everything themselves, from face-to-face negotiations with the condemning authority to calculating how much compensation they’re truly owed. However, it’s never a good idea to do this on your own. Instead, it’s highly recommended that you use a Texas condemnation lawyer.
Once you have an experienced lawyer on your side, it automatically makes the process of negotiation (and reaching a settlement) a lot easier. Plus, your lawyer will be able to provide you with all the relevant advice and information you need, from your rights to the negotiation deadlines.
What Happens When I Don’t Want to Sell My Land or Property?
If you don’t want to sell your land or property, then the case will go to a special commissioner for review (think of the special commissioner as a middleman in the case). When this happens, a condemnation lawyer is invaluable, as the case will suddenly become more complex.
It’s very common for land and property owners to refuse a financial settlement, even when it’s a large amount of money. However, the condemning authority does have the right to take your property providing it is for “public use”.
Here are a few examples of what condemning authorities are within their rights to build after taking your property or land:
For example, you might be situated in an area that’s deemed perfect for a brand-new high school. If the land of property that you own happens to fall in the middle of the building plans, then you will (unfortunately) be approached and offered a payout in return for what you own. Presumably, because you’re reading this guide, this has already happened. As mentioned above, a condemnation lawyer will help you to negotiate and come to a settlement where you receive the amount of money you deserve (often, a lawyer will be able to negotiate an even greater settlement).
Don’t Be Pressured by the Negotiator
When speaking to the negotiator (who will often be a lawyer working on behalf of the government or company that wants your property), you may find that they can be quite pressuring. This will almost definitely happen when the project in discussion (such as a new airport) has a strict deadline. For example, if the project has a proposed deadline of 2026 and they’re negotiating with you in 2023, they will be keen to reach a settlement as soon as possible. Essentially, the quicker the better from their perspective.
So, knowing this, you mustn’t allow any negotiator to pressure you or make you feel uncomfortable. Instead, you need to remain composed and work closely with your lawyer.
Remember, negotiators will often hit you with a high settlement fee to get you to sign an agreement straight away. This is a common tactic that you should avoid falling for, as it’s highly likely that your lawyer can negotiate a higher fee for you. Plus, they will take into account not just the value of your property, but the damages involved in removing it, too – which means you will likely receive even more money.
Take Time to Read the Appraisal
When you’re first approached by a company regarding your property or land, they will provide you with a written appraisal. This will detail everything from why they want your property or land to how long the project will take to complete. Of course, the most important part of the appraisal is the amount of money that they’ve valued your land or property at. When you initially speak with your lawyer, they’ll be able to help you determine whether it’s a good first offer. They will also help you to understand how the company reached this figure.
More often than not, your neighbors will have been approached regarding planning permission, too (which turns it into a community-wide issue). It’s a good idea to speak with them as well and compare the appraisals that you’ve received. If none of your neighborhood wants to sell their properties, then it gives you greater bargaining power as a collective.
Start Planning Your Next Move
Once a finalized agreement has been reached with the government or company, then you will need to start planning your next move. For instance, if you’re going to be selling your property, then you need to figure out where you will be moving to next (or at least have temporary accommodation in place).
The good news is that – in most cases – you will receive your payout quite quickly. Also, the pay-out will always be a lump sum, rather than a monthly instalment plan.
In the US, it’s not uncommon for the condemners to back down if an individual or collective group of property owners are persistent that they don’t want to sell – no matter how much money they are offered. It’s worth noting, though, that governments and companies usually get the land or property they want in the end. What you need to do is make sure you receive the payout you deserve, as well as a reasonable time frame to work around.
If you’ve recently been approached with a condemnation appraisal (or are aware that you will soon be receiving one), then there’s no need to stress or worry. The advice discussed above will help you to gain control of the situation and ultimately reach a settlement that suits all parties involved.