This chapter may be cited as the Alabama Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1999.
A displaced person who moves from his or her dwelling as the direct result of federally assisted building or other similar federally assisted code enforcement activities, or a program of rehabilitation or demolition of buildings conducted pursuant to a federally assisted governmental program, is deemed to be a displaced person for the purposes of this chapter.
No payment received by a displaced person under this chapter shall be considered as income or resources for the purposes of determining the eligibility or extent of eligibility of any person for assistance under any state law, or for the purposes of the personal income tax law, corporation tax law, or other tax laws of the state. The payments shall not be considered as income or resources of any recipient of public assistance and the payments shall not be deducted from the amount of aid to which the recipient would otherwise be entitled.
(a) If a project cannot proceed to actual construction because comparable replacement sale or rental housing is not available, and it is determined by the acquiring agency that housing cannot otherwise be made available to the displaced person, the agency may take action necessary or appropriate to provide housing by use of funds authorized for the project.
(b) No displaced person shall be required to move from his or her dwelling on account of any project, unless the agency head is satisfied that replacement housing, in accordance with subdivision (2) of subsection (c) of Section 18-4-7, is available to the person.
The monetary limits provided in Sections 18-4-4, 18-4-5, and 18-4-6 shall be adjusted to conform to future revisions of corresponding monetary benefits under the federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970.
Whenever real property is acquired by a state agency in connection with any programs or projects, the acquisition shall be conducted, to the greatest extent practicable, in accordance with the following:
(1) An agency shall make every reasonable effort to acquire, expeditiously, real property by negotiation.
(2) Real property shall be appraised before the initiation of negotiations, and the owner or his or her designated representative shall be given an opportunity to accompany the appraiser during his or her inspection of the property.
(3) Before the initiation of negotiations for real property, the state agency concerned shall establish an amount which it believes to be just compensation for the property and shall make a prompt offer to acquire the property for the full amount established. In no event shall the amount be less than the approved appraisal of the fair market value of the property by the agency. Any decrease or increase in the fair market value of real property prior to the date of valuation caused by the public improvement for which the property is acquired, or by the likelihood that the property would be acquired for improvement, other than that due to physical deterioration within the reasonable control of the owner, will be disregarded in determining the compensation for the property. The agency concerned shall provide the owner of the real property to be acquired with a written statement and summary of the basis for the amount it established as just compensation. Where appropriate, the just compensation for the real property acquired and for damages to remaining real property shall be separately stated.
(4) No owner shall be required to surrender possession of real property before the state agency pays the agreed purchase price, or deposits with the state court in accordance with applicable law, for the benefit of the owner, an amount not less than the approved appraisal of the fair market value of the property by the agency, or the amount of the award of compensation in the condemnation proceeding for such property.
(5) The construction or development of a public improvement shall be scheduled so that, to the greatest extent practicable, no person lawfully occupying real property shall be required to move from a dwelling, if a replacement dwelling will be available, without at least 90 days written notice from the agency concerned of the date by which the move is required.
(6) If the agency permits an owner or tenant to occupy the real property acquired on a rental basis for a short term for a period subject to termination by the state agency on a short notice, the amount of rent required shall not exceed the fair rental value of the property to a short-term occupier.
(7) The agency should either advance the time of condemnation or defer negotiations or condemnation and the deposit of funds in court for the use of the owner, or take any other action coercive in nature, in order to compel an agreement on the price to be paid for the property.
(8) If any interest in real property is to be acquired by exercise of the power of eminent domain, the agency concerned shall institute formal condemnation proceedings. No agency shall intentionally make it necessary for an owner to institute legal proceedings to prove the fact of the taking of his or her real property.
(9) If the acquisition of only part of a property would leave its owner with an uneconomic remnant, the agency concerned shall offer to acquire the entire property.
Any state agency requiring real property in connection with any program or project shall, as soon as practicable after the date of payment of the purchase price or the date of deposit into court of funds to satisfy the award of compensation in a condemnation proceeding to acquire real property, whichever is the earlier, reimburse the owner, to the extent the state agency deems fair and reasonable, for expenses he or she necessarily incurred for recording fees, transfer taxes, expenses incidental to conveying the real property to the state agency, penalty costs for prepayment for any preexisting recorded mortgage entered into in good faith encumbering the real property, the pro rata portion of real property taxes paid which are allocable to a period subsequent to the date of vesting title in the state agency, or the effective date of possession of the real property by the state agency, whichever is the earlier.
Where a condemnation proceeding is instituted by a state agency to acquire real property and the final judgment is that the real property cannot be acquired by condemnation, and the proceeding is abandoned, the owner of any right, title, or interest in real property shall be paid a sum that shall, in the opinion of the court, reimburse the owner for his or her reasonable costs, disbursements, and expenses including reasonable attorney, appraisal, and engineering fees, actually incurred because of the condemnation proceedings. The award of the sums will be paid by the state agency which sought to condemn the property.
Where a declaratory judgment proceeding is instituted by the owner of any right, title, or interest in real property because of use of his or her property in any program or project undertaken by a state agency, the court, rendering a judgment for the plaintiff in the proceeding and awarding compensation for the taking of property, or the Attorney General effecting a settlement of any proceeding, shall determine and award or allow to a plaintiff, as a part of a judgment or settlement, a sum that shall, in the opinion of the court or the Attorney General, as the case may be, reimburse the plaintiff for his or her reasonable costs, disbursements, and expenses, including reasonable attorney, appraisal, and engineering fees, actually incurred because of the proceeding.
(a) To the greatest extent practicable, where an interest in real property is acquired, an equal interest in all buildings, structures, or other improvements located upon the real property so acquired and which is required to be removed from the real property which is determined to be adversely affected by the use to which the real property will be put shall be acquired.
(b) For the purpose of determining the just compensation to be paid for any building, structure, or other improvement required to be acquired as above set forth, the building, structure, or other improvement shall be deemed to be a part of real property to be acquired notwithstanding the right or obligation of a tenant, as against the owner of any other interest in the real property, to remove the building, structure, or improvement at the expiration of his or her term, and the fair market value which the building, structure, or improvement contributes to the fair market value of the real property to be acquired or the fair market value of the building, structure, or improvement for removal from the real property, whichever is the greater, shall be paid to the tenant therefor.
(c) Payment for the building, structures, or improvements as set forth above shall not result in duplication of any payments otherwise authorized by state law. No payment shall be made unless the owner of the land involved disclaims all interest in the improvements of the tenant. In consideration for any payment, the tenant shall assign, transfer, and release all of his or her rights, title and interest in and to the improvements. Nothing with regard to the above mentioned acquisition of buildings, structures, or other improvements shall be construed to deprive the tenant of any rights to reject payment under this section and to obtain payment for such property interests in accordance with other laws of the state.
All state agencies may promulgate rules and regulations as necessary to carry out this chapter.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(1) COMPARABLE REPLACEMENT DWELLING. Any dwelling that is decent, safe, and sanitary; adequate in size to accommodate the occupants; within the financial means of the displaced person; functionally equivalent; in an area not subject to unreasonable adverse environmental conditions; and in a location generally not less desirable than the location of the dwelling of a displaced person with respect to public utilities, facilities, services, and the place of employment of a displaced person.
(2) DISPLACED PERSON.
a. Any person who moves from a dwelling on real property or moves his or her personal property from a dwelling on real property as a direct result of a written notice of intent to acquire or the acquisition of the real property, in whole or in part, for any program or project undertaken by a state agency, or other displacing activity as the state agency may prescribe, under a program or project undertaken by the state agency in any case in which the state agency determines that the displacement is permanent.
b. The term "displaced person" does not include a person who has been determined, according to criteria established by the state agency, to be either in unlawful occupancy of the displacement dwelling or to have occupied the dwelling for the purpose of obtaining assistance under this chapter, or in any case which the state agency acquires property for a program or project, any person, other than a person who was an occupant of the property at the time it was acquired, who occupies the property on a rental basis for a short term or a period subject to termination when the property is needed for the program or project.
(3) MORTGAGE. The classes of liens as are commonly given to secure advances on, or the unpaid purchase price of, real property, together with the credit instruments, if any, secured by the mortgage.
(4) PERSON. An individual, partnership, corporation, or association.
(5) STATE AGENCY. Any permanent or temporary state office, department, division or unit, bureau, board, commission, authority, institution, state college or university, or other unit of state government, whether executive, legislative, or judicial, which has the authority to acquire property by eminent domain under state law and which carries out projects with federal or state financial assistance that cause people to be displaced, but shall not include any unit of local government.
(a) The Legislature declares that this chapter shall be applicable only to the acquisition of real property owned and occupied by the owner as a residence by any state agency for use in projects or programs in which federal or state funds are used; except that for the purposes of this chapter, federal guarantees or insurance shall not be deemed to be federal funds. This chapter shall not apply to acquisitions by a state agency which are voluntarily initiated or negotiated by the seller under no threat of condemnation.
(b) The Legislature further declares the following:
(1) The purpose of this chapter is to establish a uniform policy for the fair and equitable treatment of persons displaced from their residences as a result of programs or projects involving the acquisition of real property by any state agency. In order that the persons shall not suffer disproportionate injuries as a result of programs designed for the benefit of the public as a whole, the policy shall be uniform as to relocation payments, advisory assistance, and assurances of availability of housing.
(2) It shall be the policy of the state to encourage and expedite the acquisition of real property by agreements with owners, to avoid litigation and relieve congestion in the courts, to assure consistent treatment for owners in the many programs, and to promote public confidence in land acquisition practices.
(a) Whenever the acquisition of real property for a program or project undertaken by a state agency will result in the displacement of any person, the agency shall make fair and reasonable relocation payments to displaced persons as required by this chapter for the actual reasonable expenses in moving himself or herself or his or her family or personal property.
(b) This chapter shall not apply to the Alabama Department of Transportation if the department is required to provide relocation assistance pursuant to Sections 23-1-210, 23-1-211, and 23-1-212.
(a) In addition to payments otherwise authorized by this chapter, the state agency shall make an additional payment not in excess of twenty-two thousand five hundred dollars ($22,500) to any displaced person who is displaced from a dwelling actually owned and occupied by the displaced person for not less than 180 days prior to the initiation of negotiations for the acquisition of the property. The additional payment shall include the following:
(1) The amount, if any, which, when added to the acquisition cost of the dwelling acquired by the state agency, equals the reasonable cost of a comparable replacement dwelling.
(2) The amount, if any, which will compensate a displaced person for any increased interest costs and other debt service costs which the displaced person is required to pay for financing the acquisition of any comparable replacement dwelling. The amount for any increased interest or debt service costs shall be determined in accordance with the criteria established by the state agency. The amount shall be paid only if the dwelling acquired by the state agency was encumbered by a bona fide mortgage which was a valid lien on the dwelling for not less than 180 days immediately prior to the initiation of negotiations for the acquisition of the dwelling.
(3) Reasonable expenses incurred by the displaced person for evidence of title, recording fees, and other closing costs incident to the purchase of the replacement dwelling, but not including prepaid expenses.
(b) The additional payment authorized by subsection (a) shall be made only to a displaced person who purchases and occupies a replacement dwelling which is decent, safe, and sanitary not later than the end of the one-year period beginning on the date on which he or she receives final payment of all costs for the acquired dwelling, or the date on which the state agency obligation under Section 18-4-12 is met, whichever is the later date, except that the state agency may extend the period for good cause. If the period is extended, the payment under this section shall be based on the cost of relocating the person to a comparable replacement dwelling within one year of the date.
(a) In addition to amounts otherwise authorized by this chapter, a state agency shall make a payment to or for any displaced person displaced from any dwelling not eligible to receive a payment under Section 18-4-5 which dwelling was actually and lawfully occupied by the displaced person for not less than 90 days immediately prior to the initiation of negotiations for acquisition of the dwelling, or in any case in which displacement is not a direct result of acquisition, or other event as the agency shall prescribe. The payment shall consist of the amount necessary to enable a displaced person to lease or rent, for a period not to exceed 42 months, a comparable replacement dwelling, but not to exceed five thousand two hundred fifty dollars ($5,250).
(b) Any displaced person eligible for a payment under subsection (a) may elect to apply the payment to a down payment on, and other incidental expenses pursuant to, the purchase of a decent, safe, and sanitary replacement dwelling. Any person may, at the discretion of the state agency, be eligible under this subsection for the maximum payment allowed under subsection (a) except that in the case of a displaced homeowner who has owned and occupied the displacement dwelling for at least 90 days but not more than 180 days immediately prior to the initiation of negotiations for the acquisition of the dwelling, the payment shall not exceed the payment the person would otherwise have received under Section 18-4-5 had the person owned and occupied the displacement dwelling 180 days immediately prior to the initiation of the negotiations.
(a) Programs or projects undertaken by a state agency shall be planned in a manner that recognizes, at an early stage in the planning of the programs or projects and before the commencement of any actions which will cause displacements, and provides for the resolution of the problems in order to minimize adverse impacts on displaced persons and to expedite program or project advancement and completion.
(b) The agency shall ensure that the relocation assistance advisory services described in subsection (c) are made available to all persons displaced by the agency. If the state agency determines that any person occupying property immediately adjacent to the real property acquired is caused substantial economic injury because of the acquisition, it may offer the person relocation advisory services under the program.
(c) Each relocation assistance advisory program required by subsections (a) and (b) shall include measures, facilities, or services necessary or appropriate in order to do the following:
(1) Determine, and make timely recommendations on, the need and preferences, if any, of displaced persons, for relocation assistance.
(2) Assure that, within a reasonable period of time, prior to displacement there will be available a comparable replacement dwelling.
(3) Supply information concerning federal and state housing programs, disaster loan programs, and other federal or state programs offering assistance to displaced persons.
(4) Provide other advisory services to displaced persons in order to minimize hardships to the person in adjusting to relocation.
(d) The heads of state agencies shall coordinate relocation activities with other project activities and other planned or proposed governmental actions in the community or nearby areas which may affect the carrying out of relocation assistance programs.
In order to prevent unnecessary expense and duplication of functions, and to promote uniform and effective administration of relocation assistance programs for displaced persons, a state agency may enter into contracts with any individual, firm, association, or corporation for service in connection with the programs, or may carry out its functions under this chapter through any federal or state agency or instrumentality having an established organization for conducting relocation assistance programs.
Funds appropriated or otherwise available to any state agency for the acquisition of real property or any interest therein for a particular program or project shall be available also for obligation and expenditure to carry out the provisions of this chapter as applied to that program or project.