Chapter 2: Laws, Regulations, and TxDOT Policy


Section 1: Federal Law and Regulations

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Authority for Relocation Assistance

On January 2, 1971, Congress enacted Public Law 91-646, the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, (42USC, 4601 et seq.). The Uniform Act provides relocation payments and advisory assistance for displacees who are displaced by highway construction on the Federal-Aid Highway System. Provisions of Public Law 91-646 apply, whether or not Federal funding is used for ROW acquisition, if the transportation project will be eligible for Federal funding in construction. Federal regulation governing relocation is contained in 49CFR, Part 24, Subparts C through F.

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Relocation Payments Non-Income Status

Payments received under this manual will not be considered income for purpose of Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Likewise, payments are not considered income for the purpose of determining the eligibility, or extent of eligibility, of any person for assistance under the Social Security Act or any other Federal law, except Federal law providing low-income housing assistance. See 42USC Section 4636.

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Fair Housing

Federal fair housing law contains the following provision for most residential transactions:

“After December 31, 1968, it shall be unlawful to deny any person access to or membership or participation in any multiple-listing service, real estate brokers' organization or other service, organization, or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings, or to discriminate against him or her in the terms or conditions of such access, membership, or participation, on account of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.”

If a real estate broker, agent or salesperson is handling the sale or rental of a residence, then compliance with the Federal fair housing law is presumed. However, if the property owner handles the sale or rental, then check with the owner to determine compliance with the law.

Displacees are protected according to:

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  • Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (commonly known as the Federal Fair Housing Law ) (refer to 42USC 3601, et seq; 24CFR Parts 100 and 103; and
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  • the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Amendment Act of 1974.

These laws make it illegal to:

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  • refuse to sell or rent residential property due to race, color, religion or national origin (Note: The U.S. Department of Transportation adds “age, sex and handicap” to the list);
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  • discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions or privileges of sale or rental of residential property or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such a sale or rental;
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  • advertise a dwelling for rent or sale in a discriminatory manner;
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  • misinform a person regarding availability of residential property;
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  • engage in blockbusting for profit; or
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  • practice discrimination in financing of housing.
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Fair Housing Exceptions

These laws do not apply to an owner of a single-family residence sold or rented if:

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  • he does not own more than three residences at any one time;
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  • he did not live in the residence during any one sale in a twenty-four month period or he was not the last one to live there before the sale;
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  • he does not own any interest in proceeds from sale or rental of more than three single-family residences at any one time; or
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  • he does not employ services of a real estate broker, agent, or salesperson in the sale or rental.

The law states that any person must be deemed a real estate broker, agent, or salesperson if:

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  • within the past twelve months, he has acted as principal in three or more transactions involving sale or rental of any dwelling or any interest therein;
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  • within the past twelve months, he has acted as agent, other than in the sale of his own personal residence, by providing services in two or more transactions involving sale or rental of any dwelling or interest therein;
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  • he owns a dwelling occupied, or intended for occupancy, by five or more families; or
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  • he does not advertise the residence for sale or rental in a discriminatory manner.

The laws do not apply to rental units in dwellings containing living quarters designed for no more than four families living independently of each other, provided that the owner actually lives in one of the quarters. Finally, the laws do not apply to dwellings and rental units owned and operated by certain religious organizations and private clubs.

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Eligibility - Individuals Unlawfully Present

Effective March 15, 1999, changes to 49CFR, Part 24, require that individuals unlawfully present in the U.S. are ineligible for entitlements under the relocation assistance program.

A person is determined unlawfully present if he fails to certify that he is a citizen or national of the U.S., or his certification is determined invalid.

Aliens lawfully present in the U.S. must provide supporting documentation of their residency status. Evaluate this documentation according to 49CFR 24.208. Coordinate the evaluation with the ROW Program Office for statewide consistency.

A person who is unlawfully present in the U.S., but who can demonstrate that denial of relocation assistance benefits will result in an “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to the person's spouse, parent, or child (if that spouse, parent, or child is a citizen of the U.S. or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S.), may be considered eligible to receive relocation benefits. Coordinate the evaluation with the ROW Program Office for statewide consistency.

The TxDOT form ROW-R-CE, Certification of Eligibility is available.

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