Houston Matters

How and When Is Eminent Domain Exercised in Houston and Texas?

Eminent domain is defined as the right of the government or its agent to take private property for public use, with payment of compensation. It sounds very straightforward right? Of course, it’s quite often not. The idea of your land being taken away because perhaps oil is found on it or a road needs to […]

Eminent domain is defined as the right of the government or its agent to take private property for public use, with payment of compensation. It sounds very straightforward right? Of course, it's quite often not.

The idea of your land being taken away because perhaps oil is found on it or a road needs to be built is never particularly welcome by the landowner. One of the biggest issues can often be the compensation part. Landowners will dispute that their land is worth more than they're being offered, and Senate Bill 474 in the Texas Legislature is actually looking to address compensation fairness when it comes to eminent domain.

The bill is currently pending in the House committee as of Monday (May 18, 2015). A previous bill, Senate Bill 18, had a provision to figure out how many entities have eminent domain authority. That number came to more than 9,000, and when you apply that to the fact that 95 percent of land in Texas is owned by someone or some entity already, you've got a recipe for eminent domain being exercised a lot in this state.

So how does it work and how you can arm yourself just in case it might happen to you? Andy Edison, an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center, joins us to answer those questions.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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