Whether it’s for an oil & gas pipeline, roadway, or public building, the government has the right to take your land by way of eminent domain as long as they provide just compensation. Can you object? What can be negotiated?

What happens if you own a piece of land here in Texas and you’re contacted by a local oil company or a natural gas pipeline or an electric company that wants to secure an easement on your property. Because these easements are considered for the greater good of the population, these easements actually supersede landowner rights using eminent domain. Interestingly enough, cell towers are not considered for the greater good. So, a cell tower company can’t just come and plop up a cell tower on your property. One could argue that cell towers offer just as much benefit, if not more, than a natural gas pipeline or an electric easement, for example, but it is interesting and thank goodness that they can’t just put a cell tower on our property.

First and foremost, I highly recommend that you contact a good local attorney that specializes in eminent domain cases in your area. Some local ones here in the Austin area are Jackson Walker LLP or Mars Ellison Hodge LLP. They specialize in eminent eminent domain cases. Now, I’m not recommending these companies by any means, but they are some credible companies in the area. And, there are others as well. Once you are contacted by a local utility company or an oil or natural gas pipeline company, they’ll submit an offer to you. Now, you have a certain amount of time that you have to respond to that offer, so it’s imperative that you get in contact with an eminent domain attorney, in my opinion, right away so they can represent you because, of course, this offer is probably going to be a lowball offer. It’s just how the game is played. It’s a game of cat and mouse. So, you want to respond promptly because, if you don’t, then that offer might just be the offer that you are required to take.

Tiffany Dow Lashmet with Texas A&M wrote a great article about eminent domain. It’s called “Eminent domain in Texas: A Landowner’s Guide.” And, in this free article that you can download off of Google, it’s about 40 to 50 pages in PDF format, she discusses the various items that you might be able to negotiate as the landowner. For example, if an oil pipeline is going to put a pipeline on your property, what is the depth at which they’ll bury that pipeline? Of course, they want to go as shallow as possible because it costs more money to go deeper. But, you can negotiate that. You can negotiate the actual width of the easement, maybe the type of material that’s used for the pipeline.

Thinking long term, what happens if the pipeline breaks on your property and contaminates the soil? Well, they should be responsible for cleaning that up, but if it is not specifically stated in your agreement – your lease agreement with them – well, then you might not have to or you might bear the cost of that actually.
Also, thinking ahead, and we ran into this recently with the property that we purchased in San Marcos, there was a natural gas pipeline that was built and constructed in the 70s and it has since been abandoned for almost 15 years. However, the original owner in the 1970s did not have a provision in the lease agreement that required the pipeline company to remove that pipeline once abandoned. So, first you have to get their permission to vacate the easement. We’ve done a video in the past on vacating easement, so you can circle back to that. And, then secondly, they are requiring us to bear the cost of removing that pipeline. So, tell me how ridiculous this is, they have the pipeline on our property, it’s been abandoned for 15-20 years, but we have to bear the cost, which the minimum bid was $52,000.

So, you want to make sure that you are setting yourself up properly. Work with a good eminent domain attorney in the area that can really help you navigate these leases. Because, these pipeline companies, these electric companies, they have an army of good attorneys that are going to only benefit them, of course.

Feel free to reach out to us with questions or other topics you’d like to see covered.

🀠 We’re Your Local & Trusted Central TX Land Buyers serving Travis, Williamson, Caldwell, Bastrop & Hays counties. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for weekly tips and insight into land buying, land selling, and real estate investing from our seasoned land acquisition specialists. SUBSCRIBE: https://tinyurl.com/hcfnsyk8

πŸ’» Want a Cash Offer for your land in 24 hours or less with No Agent Fees or Closing Costs? Learn more: CONTACT US: https://landsaletx.com/contact/

☎️ Looking to sell your Central TX land quick & stress-free -OR- Interested in investing in land in the area, we’d love to tell you about some of the off-market opportunities we find through our marketing. CALL or TEXT Us Today at (512) 387-7749.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LandSaleTX/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/landsaletx/

⚠️ We are NOT attorneys, licensed CPAs or Tax Professionals. We can provide honest, ethical and creative solutions for selling or investing in land, but ALWAYS recommend you get advice from your attorney, CPA and Professional Tax Advisor.