What is Eminent Domain?

Texas Eminent Domain Laws and Terms

What gives the government the right to come and take your property? Eminent Domain is a general power of the government, subject to some restriction by both the U.S. Federal and Texas State Constitutions. The Texas Legislature has also delegated to certain privately-owned companies, for-profit companies, and quasi-governmental entities the power take property from a lawful owner of private property.

Some of the keys terms owners inquire about are:

  • Eminent Domain: This is one of the inherent powers of government, limited by the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution, to take land for public use. Governments most commonly exercise Eminent Domain to obtain land to expand or improve public roads, streets, and highways, or electrical transmission infrastructure. They also use the power to acquire land for public facilities or buildings, or even parkland. Often, easements for water and wastewater mains, electric utilities and power lines, gas mains, and other public utilities are sought.
  • Condemnation: This is the action by the government exercising its right of Eminent Domain in exchange for compensation. This term is also commonly used when a structure is closed or razed for public health concerns.
  • Valuation: Performed by an appraiser, a valuation of property, also called an appraisal, is a supported professional opinion of the value of the condemned property and should include analysis of compensable categories of “damage” to the remaining property, based on its best and highest use.
  • Public Use: Property cannot be condemned except for a public use. This traditionally meant use by the public in general. However, a few recent examples have eroded that protection, resulting in transferring property to a private party where there is an indirect benefit to the public.

Eminent Domain ▪ Condemnation ▪ Fair Compensation

You deserve fair compensation. Fair market value is only part of the compensation equation. Remainder damage may be unclear without detailed analysis of the construction plans and site. We work with local attorneys and owners early in the process to build an effective team with the experience and tools necessary to clear the hurdles of a condemnation proceeding and truly seek full and fair compensation as provided by Constitutional protections.

This is meant to serve as an example of basic definitions of and reasons for Eminent Domain. If you have been put on notice of a condemnation proceeding, it is wise to contact a lawyer.


This Texas law firm maintains its principal office within blocks of the Capitol complex in Austin, Texas. Our attorneys have handled appraisal disputes, eminent domain and condemnation cases throughout the State of Texas including Austin, Aransas Pass, Atlanta, Athens, Bastrop, Beaumont, Belton, Big Spring, Boerne, Bonham, Boston, Brownsville, Brownwood, Childress, Clarksville, Conroe, Copperas Cove, Corpus Christi, Cuero, Dallas, Denton, Eastland, El Paso, Fairfield, Forney, Ft. Stockton, Ft. Worth, Georgetown, Grande Prairie, Houston, Jefferson, Katy, Lockhart, Longview, Lubbock, Marshall, Mount Pleasant, Paris, Port Aransas, San Angelo, San Antonio, Seguin, Sinton, South Padre, Stephenville, Sweetwater, Tyler, Waco, Weatherford, Wimberley, and surrounding areas that include properties along Texas State Highway 130 (toll road), State Highway 45 (toll road), IH 35, IH 10, IH 45, IH 20, US 59, US 71, US 290, US 183, Beltway 8, IH 30, Loop 820, SH 121, SH 114, the North Tarrant Expressway and transmission line cases similar to acquisitions by LCRA and ONCOR.