As in all real estate transactions, communicating and exchanging views are essential in reaching an agreement.
The Department’s representative in these discussions is the agent. The agent understands the procedures of the Department, the regulations governing the acquisition, the Construction and Right of Way Plans, and the timing of the construction schedule. With this knowledge, the agent will be most helpful to you. As you may be unfamiliar with the process required to sell your property to the State of Ohio, the agent’s primary duty is to advise you in every way possible regarding this acquisition process.
The agent will explain the transportation project in detail and particularly its impact upon your property. The agent will answer or obtain answers to your questions. The agent will make you an offer in writing the first time he or she
discusses the offer, property value, estimate of compensation, or money with you.
To successfully complete this important assignment, the agent may request information from you relating to mortgages, liens,
assessments, taxes, and tenants. The agent may also request contact information for lenders,
tenants, lien holders, etc.
When an agreement is reached, the agent will have the necessary documents prepared to assist you as necessary and will take the required steps to obtain payment of the agreed purchase price. The agent will also help you obtain the release of mortgage, if needed, and other releases that may be required as part of the acquisition.
If an agreement cannot be reached, the agent will explain your rights and the process of appropriation-having your case decided by ajury. See “Your Appropriation Rights” section of this brochure for more information.
The agent’s duty is to minimize any confusion and inconvenience which could result from the acquisition of your property. It is the Department’s sincere hope that when this matter is concluded, you will be able to say that you were treated fairly, respectfully, and that you were fully informed of your rights and ODOT’s needs to acquire your property.
The Relocation Assistance Program
If you are required to move because the If you are required to move because the property you occupy is purchased by the State of Ohio for construction of a highway or other transportation improvement, you may be entitled to benefits under the Relocation Assistance Program which is designed to aid occupants who are displaced.
Relocation benefits may be available to owner occupants and tenant occupants of residences, businesses, farms, and not-for-profit organizations. Relocation benefits can include relocation housing payments, rental assistance payments, move cost reimbursements, reestablishment expenses, and advisory services.
No one will be required to move for at least 90 days after a written offer has been made for the purchase of the property they occupy. Furthermore, displaced occupants will be given specific notice, if necessary, at least 30 days in advance of the exact date that they will be required to move.
If you are required to move, a relocation agent will contact you to explain the Relocation Assistance Program and to answer questions. The agent’s purpose is to advise you of the requirements for each type of payment to which you may be entitled.
The benefits and payments are explained more completely in the Relocation Assistance Program’s brochures “Relocation Assistance, Non-Residential Brochure” and “Residential Relocation Assistance Program Brochure.” These brochures are available at ODOT’s District Offices or from your relocation agent.
Your Appropriation Rights
The Ohio Constitution permits the State to acquire your property for a transportation project provided that you are paid just
compensation. There is no requirement that you reach a settlement with the Department of Transportation for the sale of your property. To fully protect your rights, the laws of Ohio provide that just compensation (the fair market value of your property) may be determined by a local jury, if you so choose.
In the event that you and the Department do not reach an agreement regarding the value of your property, the Director of Transportation will request that the Attorney General’s Office initiate such action as is necessary to acquire the property by appropriation. An action will then be filed in the Court of Common Pleas or the Probate Court of the county in which the
property is located. At the same time, the Director shall deposit with the Clerk of Courts the amount of money which the Department has determined to be just compensation for the property taken and damages to the remainder of the property, if any. This figure is based upon the approved fair market value estimate prepared for the Department.
Once the money has been deposited, you may apply to the court for the full amount, subject of course to the interests which others may have (i.e., obligations for taxes, mortgage assessments, liens, etc.). The fact that you withdraw the money from the Court does not prejudice your rights to have a jury determine the value of the property. The only “restriction” is that once the sum is made available to you,interest will not accrue, even if left on deposit with the Court.
If you decide to accept the amount placed on deposit as full compensation, you will be required to petition the Court for withdrawal of the deposit. If you wish to contest the valuation of your property, you must file an answer to the Department’s Petition for Appropriation. It is important that a timely answer be filed with the Court. The court will then set a date for the
appropriation trial where a jury will hear testimony from you and the Department in the proceeding. Negotiations may continue at all times. If agreement is reached prior to trial, a formal settlement may be reached with Court approval.
It is important to note when the Director has placed an amount on deposit with the Court, the Department may enter upon and use your land. However, it may not use or demolish your structures until either a jury has had an opportunity to view them or until a “structure appraisal” is filed with the Court. The “structure appraisal” process causes detailed pictures to be
taken of the exterior and interior of all structures affected by the highway improvement. Three appraisers: one of your
choice, one appointed by the Court, and one selected by the Department will visit and inspect the structure(s) and arrive at an opinion of value for each structure affected. The independent opinions of value will then be filed with the Court. The “structure appraisal” process allows the Director to secure physical possession of the structures as early as 60 days after service of summons for the appropriation case.
Retention of Improvements
Property owners with buildings or other improvements that will be acquired by the project may retain these improvements with concurrence from the Department. These details must be discussed and agreed upon with the Department at the time the terms of settlement are being discussed. The salvage value of the buildings or improvements you desire to retain will be deducted from your FMVE.
Why Are Public Meetings Held?
A public meeting gives you and local officials the opportunity to have an open discussion regarding the need for the proposed
improvement and the merits of the route location and design. An official transcript is made of these comments, and the Director of Transportation and his staff will review the proceedings in order to make a proper determination.
May A Survey Or Soil Testing Crew Enter My Property Without My Permission?
Yes, the law of Ohio permits survey or soil testing crews authorized by the Director of Transportation to enter upon any lands within the State. However, as a matter of law, the survey or soil testing crews are required to provide notice to you before entering your land. The law also provides that compensation be paid for damages or injury to the premises caused by these crews.
Can The Crews Tell Me About The Project?
The crews are obtaining information which the engineers will use as a basis for locating and designing the proposed project. They are not able to give you information that has any final or official status. As soon as definite information is available, you will be officially notified and contacted by a representative of the Department.
When Will I Know How A Project Affects My Property?
General information is discussed at the public meetings but not the specific details. When the acquisition process begins, the agent will discuss the plans and show you exactly how the transportation project will affect your property.
May I Keep My Buildings and Move Them?
If the Department agrees to your request to retain buildings acquired for the project, you may be allowed to remove the buildings from the project area. This process requires you to agree with specific arrangements with the Department. It will be your responsibility to remove, at your own expense, any buildings or other improvements when retention is allowed. The salvage value of the buildings you retain will be deducted from your FMVE. See the “Retention of Improvements” section of this brochure for more information.