Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
PlanningEnvironmentReal Estate

HEP Events Guidance Publications Awards Contacts

Side-by-side Comparisons of Changes to the Uniform Act FAQ

General

UNIFORM ACT FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
2005 August 2005 January 25, 2007  
Original Text Interim Text Final Text Comments
Side by Side Comparison of FAQ’s  
Legend:
Moved: Italics
Deleted: Strikethrough
New: Red Bold
 
GENERAL     Title Deleted

What is the Uniform Act?

It is the short name for the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970, as amended. This law was enacted as Public Law 91-646, and brought a minimum standard of performance to all Federally funded projects with regard to the acquisition of real property and the relocation of persons displaced by the acquisition of such property.

 

1. What is the Uniform Act?

It is the short name for the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended. This law was enacted as Public Law 91-646, and brought a minimum standard of performance to all Federally funded projects with regard to the acquisition of real property and the relocation of persons displaced by the acquisition of such property

 

Has it been amended since passage?

Yes, there have been several amendments over the years, with the most significant taking place as a part of the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987.

 

2. Has it been amended since passage?

Yes, there have been several amendments over the years, with the most significant taking place as a part of the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987.

 

Where can I find the law and the rules created to carry out the law?

The law is codified in 42 U.S.C. 4601 et seq. The rules governing the law are found in 49 CFR, Part 24. There may be other laws or rules established by an agency or State that elaborate or expand upon these minimum standards. Links to locate the basic law and Department of Transportation rules are from http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/guidance/

 

3. Where can I find the law and the rules created to carry out the law?

The law is codified in 42 U.S.C. 4601 et seq. The regulation governing the law is found in 49 CFR, Part 24. There may be other laws, regulations, policies and procedures established by agencies that elaborate or expand upon these minimum standards. Links to the basic law and regulation can be found at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/guidance/

 
Acquisition     Title Deleted

Who determines the value of the property to be acquired?

Value is estimated in a two step process. An appraiser researches the real estate market and presents an estimate of market value. A reviewing appraiser evaluates that work product and recommends an amount that an agency official will approve as the acquiring agency's estimate of just compensation.

    Moved to Question #21

Who are qualified appraisers?

The most complete sources of persons with appraisal credentials are the state appraisal licensing agencies. Public employees serving as appraisers already have been evaluated for conformance with qualification standards and may not be required in some states to be licensed or certified. For an appraiser to be considered to be qualified for a specific appraisal assignment, experience or technical expertise in the kind of appraisal effort appropriate is also necessary.

    Moved to Question #18

Does the property owner have a choice of appraisers?

Selection of the appraiser, as well as other personnel to work on the project, is the agency decision.

    Deleted

Must all offers by an agency to acquire property be made in writing?

The first time an agency makes an offer to purchase, it must be in writing and be in the full amount approved by the agency as its estimate of just compensation. Any subsequent offers to purchase that property may be either verbal or written, depending upon agency policy and applicable law.

    Moved to Question #22

What if the owner doesn't agree with the amount offered?

The laws of the acquiring agency set forth the legal steps the agency must take when they wish to purchase property that an owner does not want to sell. An important part of this process is the determination of the amount of compensation.

    Moved to Question #23

Can property owners provide their own appraisal to the acquiring agency?

Yes. The acquiring agency should consider all relevant information in its negotiations with property owners.

    Moved to Question #24

Who makes the final settlement offer?

This is a matter of negotiations policy as well as law. Some eminent domain laws place a special significance upon the concept of a final settlement offer when a case is not settled but proceeds through legal steps. In those cases, most typically the acquiring agency is the one that makes this "final" offer. Successful negotiations practices often ask that, when the acquiring agency's written offer is not acceptable, the property owner tender a written offer to sell at the lowest figure they are willing to accept, so that the acquiring agency can accept that offer and be sure they will bring closure to the negotiations. Such written counteroffers most frequently follow a sequence of verbal negotiations where both parties are attempting to understand the other party's perspective.

    Deleted

Is condemnation the only solution when an agency can't reach agreement on the purchase of property for the project.

No. One of the objectives of the Uniform Act is to "encourage and expedite the acquisition of real property by agreements with owners and to avoid litigation and relieve congestion in courts...". In the event negotiations for the property fail, agencies should first consider the use of an administrative settlement (49CFR24.102(i)). Agency officials may approve the use of an administrative settlement if it is reasonable, prudent and in the public interest. Agencies may also use other alternative dispute resolution options, such as mediation.

    Moved to Question #23

When should property owners be paid for their property?

As quickly as possible under the applicable laws, and at a time when the property owner is in a position to transfer title. The acquiring agency should work with the property owner to resolve any liens against the property being acquired.

    Moved to Question #26

When can a property owner be required to turn possession of the property over to an acquiring agency?

A property owner may voluntarily turn control of their property to an acquiring agency at any time. An acquiring agency may not require a property owner to give them possession until the sale of the property is complete (payment made and title transferred) and the owner has been given notice of the acquiring agency's need to take possession. This notice to take possession is referred to, under the Uniform Act, as the 90-day notice. This notice is in writing, and may be given in one of two ways. The first way is by a single notice given once the closing on the property purchase has been completed, and provides at least 90 days advance notice of the specific date possession will be required. The second way is for a notice be given at or following the initiation of negotiations providing the property owner with assurance that they will not be required to vacate their property until a specific date at least 90 days from the time the owner is expected to receive the notice, and that upon closing of the sale transaction, they will be given another notice that will give them at least 30 days from expected receipt of the notice to vacate the property. This latter date, of course, may not be any earlier than the date already provided in the initial 90-day notice.

    Moved to Question # 27
Relocation     Title Deleted
   

4. Which Federal agencies must abide by the provisions of the Uniform Act?

All acquiring agencies meeting the definition set out in Section (§) 24.2(a)(1)(iii) are required to comply with the Uniform Act and the implementing regulation, 49 CFR Part 24.

 
   

5. Does the Uniform Act apply to local agencies or third parties who acquire properties in advance of federal authorization or a federal project designation?

The funding agency will review such acquisitions to determine if the intent of the acquisition was for a federally funded program or project, in which case the provisions of the Uniform Act and the implementing regulation apply.

 
Updated: 09/05/2014
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000