What’s Negotiable in Texas Condemnation Proceedings
What’s negotiable in condemnation proceedings for Texas property owners? For example, if a private company with the power of eminent domain is building a pipeline through your property, can you just negotiate price or can you negotiate other aspects of the contract?
Attorney Philip Hundl answers those questions in this video. Mr. Hundl is a Shareholder in the law firm of Wadler, Perches, Hundl & Kerlick, his law practice focuses on eminent domain and condemnation. You can make an appointment with Mr. Hundl or one of our other experienced attorneys by calling 800-929-1725 or using our contact form to send us an email.
Summary of What’s Negotiable in Texas Condemnation Proceedings
This is Philip Hundl. I’m an attorney with Wadler, Perches, Hundl & Kerlick, and this segment will be Part Three of our discussion on condemnation, eminent domain and the landowners’ rights.
Issues Negotiated in Texas Condemnation Proceedings
The first issue is usually the negotiation of the monetary compensation or the amount of money that the power line company, or other entity with the power of eminent domain, is willing to pay the landowner for an easement. That’s, let’s say, the first hurdle.
Then the second hurdle often times is what this easement agreement says. Landowners might believe that the language in the easement is “take it or leave it”. You might believe that you have to accept every provision in the easement agreement that’s proposed by the power line company.
I’m going to say, in my experience, that is typically not the case. These companies are usually willing to negotiate and work with you on the non-monetary provisions of the easement agreement, as well as the monetary provisions.
Easement Size Can Often be Negotiated
Some of the areas that I say are topics of discussion and negotiation can be the size of the easement or the area subject to the easement. For example, the pipeline company or the power line company, instead of wanting a 75-foot easement, might be able to get by with a 60-foot easement. That can make a big difference for you, the landowner.
There are times when these companies seek road use to get to the pipeline or power line easement that may run through the middle of your property. So they’re also seeking, in addition to the pipeline easement or power line easement, an access or road use easement. And that can be open for discussion. Perhaps it can be a temporary access instead of permanent access. It can be limited a lot of different ways.
Remediation Can Often be Negotiated
Also, once the construction work is complete on your property, there can be contract provisions to remediate the land, and bring it back to its previous condition. So before the work was done on the pipeline easement, getting the pipeline company to agree to bring the property or the land back to its original condition can be something to be discussed and outlined in an easement agreement.
So all those terms and conditions can be discussed, negotiated, and in my experience, pipeline companies and power line companies are typically open to doing that. Other negotiable provisions in condemnation proceedings might be the route of access roads or the actual route of the pipeline or power line. Perhaps the attributes of your property make one easement route better than another. If there are particular trees or groups of trees that you would like to be saved, that’s possible.
Avoiding Property Improvements and Safeguarding Livestock Might be Negotiated
These discussions and negotiations in Texas condemnation proceedings are typically more easily done by the lawyer. Also, if there are improvements on the property, or ponds, or things like that, these can be also avoided often times by the pipeline company or power line company.
Let’s say you’re running cattle on the property. Well, it’s going to be very important to you that your cattle are not injured while the pipeline company or power line company is out there on your property doing this construction or even doing the surveying, that they don’t leave the gate open. These are all items that need to be discussed and can be agreed upon. There can be temporary fencing put in place. You all can agree or discuss what type of temporary fencing. Lots of thought can go into those details, and in my experience, companies are willing to discuss those details.
Your Attorney Can Help You Find Whom to Negotiate With
Sometimes there’s some confusion by landowners about whom they’re dealing with. Many of these pipeline companies, or power line companies, or governmental entities will hire agents to do the legwork, and they’re often called landmen or land acquiring companies. They do a lot of this “work boots on the ground, work on the ground” with the landowner.
So you may be dealing with a company that’s not XYZ pipeline company, but it’s some other company that is a subcontractor for the pipeline company. Their job is to go and meet with landowners to work out these details. Sometimes there’s confusion about who actually is doing the negotiating for the pipeline company.
Your attorney can help you clarify the role and authority of intermediaries. That will help sometimes with the discussions. Certain levels of subcontractors only have certain authority to make certain decisions. So it’s important to find out who actually has the authority to make the decisions and negotiate the issues important to you.
You Need an Attorney to Help You Through Condemnation Proceedings
If you’re a landowner in Texas, you need professional, experienced legal help to guide you through condemnation proceedings affecting your property. Your attorney can help you get the best result possible and can help you negotiate for the best valuation possible with the least impact on the value of your remaining property.
Call Attorney Philip Hundl or one of the other experienced eminent domain and condemnation attorneys at 800-929-1725. We’ll meet you at any of our offices in Wharton or El Campo in Wharton County or in Richmond in Fort Bend County. You can also send us an email through our contact form.