Initiation of Negotiation (ION):
New trigger for tenant eligibility.
Appendix A, § 24.2(a)(15).
Notices and offers to owner must be "in writing" according to § 24.102(b).
Appendix A, was revised as follows:
§ 24.2(a)(15)(iv) Initiation of negotiations (Tenants.) Tenants that occupy property that may be acquired amicably, are entitled to the following [no use of eminent domain per § 24.101(b)(1) through (5)] :
Informed as to eligibility for relocation assistance (i.e., potential eligibility at initiation of negotiations)
Notification when they become fully eligible, if the property is acquired from owner
Notification that they are no longer eligible for relocation benefits if no agreement is reached with the owner to purchase the property
If a tenant is not readily accessible, as the result of a disaster or emergency, the agency must make a good faith effort to provide these notifications and document its efforts in writing.
In the context of the second bullet above, where options are being used, this notice would be triggered by a written agreement that binds the acquiring agency to purchase the property from which a tenant would be displaced. That is the agency and the property owner are subject to legally enforceable commitments to proceed with the purchase.
FHWA is strengthening requirements for written notices and that now includes willing sellers. The early notice of interest in acquiring property is also required in writing per § 24.102(b).
IMPLEMENTATION: Will require potentially additional contacts with tenants occupants as the new procedures are followed.