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Section 8: Landowner’s Bill of Rights and Written Initial Offer to Purchase as Required Elements of a Bona Fide Offer (for State)

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Landowner’s Bill of Rights

Section 21.0112 of the Texas Property Code requires that a copy of the Texas Attorney General’s Landowner’s Bill of Rights must be provided to a property owner whose property may be acquired by eminent domain: 1) not later than the seventh day before the final offer (or earlier), and 2) before or at the same time that any TxDOT representative or employee represents to the landowner in any manner that TxDOT possesses the power of eminent domain.

In order to minimize the risk of violating the timing requirement of the statute during negotiations, it is strongly recommended that the Landowner’s Bill of Rights be provided to the property owner prior to or at the time the initial offer is made.

The current version of the Landowner's Bill of Rights is available on both the Attorney General's and TxDOT's websites, and any copies prepared for mailing or delivery to property owners should have the exact wording from the Attorney General's website. The revision date is shown at the bottom of the last page of the Landowner’s Bill of Rights.

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Methods of Providing the Landowner’s Bill of Rights

Property Code Section 21.0112(a) provides that “the entity must send by first-class mail or otherwise [such as hand -delivery] provide a landowner’s bill of rights statement...to the last known address of the person in whose name the property is listed on the most recent tax roll of any appropriate taxing unit authorized by law to levy property taxes against the property.” If the current record owner as listed in the title commitment or other advance title information obtained is a name and/or address that is different from the name and/or address shown on the tax roll records, a separate (additional) Landowner’s Bill of Rights statement should be provided in the same manner to such record title owner at the record title owner’s address as determined by the negotiator.

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Documenting Compliance with the Landowner’s Bill of Rights Statute

Documentation should be maintained to establish when and how the Landowner’s Bill of Rights statement was provided to the property owner. This documentation is very important, as in the event negotiations are not successful and the parcel must be acquired by condemnation, the condemnation petition must allege and the State must be prepared to prove, that it provided the Landowner’s Bill of Rights to the property owner in accordance with the statute, Property Code Section 21.0112.

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Initial Written Offer to Purchase

Make a prompt written offer for the full just compensation amount to the property owner. Section 21.0111 of the Texas Property Code requires the initial offer letter to be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested. Delivery of the offer constitutes initiation of negotiations and is the principal date for determination of relocation assistance entitlements. Include the following items in or with initial written offers:

  • A statement of the amount offered as just compensation. In the case of partial acquisition, state separately compensation for real property and compensation for damages, if any.
  • A description and location of the right of way parcel and of the type of interest to be acquired. The description and location of the parcel can be in general terms.
  • An identification of buildings, structures, and other improvements considered part of the real property for which the offer is made. Identify any separately held property ownership interest (e.g., public utilities and railroads). Indicate that any such interest is not included in the offer. Generally, the owner is required to negotiate with lessees, mortgages, private easement owners and any other entity holding a real property interest. Offers to purchase are usually addressed to the real property owner. For situations where improvements are owned by a lessee, see Acquisition of Leasehold Interests (for State).
  • A copy of all appraisal reports produced or acquired by TxDOT relating specifically to the owner's property and prepared in the 10 years preceding the date of the offer.
  • The initial offer letter signed by an authorized TxDOT representative.
  • A copy of the current version of the Landowner's Bill of Rights (see Landowner’s Bill of Rights discussion above).

Retain copies of all signed letters in files. See the offer letters templates for more information.

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Initial Offer Letter

Partial Taking

Initial Offer Letter

Whole Taking

Initial Offer Letter

Partial Taking (for use when property contains petroleum tanks)

Initial Offer Letter

Whole Taking (for use when property contains petroleum tanks)

Initial Offer Letter

to Lessee (Partial Taking)

Initial Offer Letter

to Lessee (Whole Taking)

Initial Offer Letter

to Owner when there is a Lessee (Partial Taking)

Initial Offer Letter

to Owner when there is a Lessee (Whole Taking)

Initial Offer Letter

for Easements



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Elements of Required “Bona Fide Offer”

An entity with eminent domain authority that wants to acquire real property for a public use must make a "bona fide offer" to purchase the property from its owner voluntarily. A bona fide offer, requires all of the following::

  • a written initial offer;
  • a written final offer, made 30+ days after the initial offer, based on a written appraisal from a certified appraiser (final offer must be equal or greater than the appraised amount). Conversely, to be a bona fide offer, the final offer cannot be based on an in-house value finding by a non-certified TxDOT employee;
  • provide with the final offer or earlier: (a) a copy of the written appraisal on which final offer is based; (b) a copy of the deed, easement or other instrument by which the property or property right is proposed to be conveyed; and (c) the Landowner's Bill of Rights as prescribed by Section 21.0112 (the Landowner's Bill of Rights should be provided with the initial offer); and
  • provide property owner at least 14 days to respond to final offer before filing eminent domain petition (prior TxDOT final offer letter provided only 10 days).
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