Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 25.1. Eminent Domain
Chapter 4. Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies
10/25/2021

Article 3. Real Property Acquisition Policies.

§ 25.1-417. General provisions for conduct of acquisition.

A. If a state agency acquires real property in connection with any programs or projects, such acquisition shall be conducted, to the greatest extent practicable, in accordance with the following provisions:

1. The state 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 designated representative shall be given an opportunity to accompany the appraiser during his inspection of the property; however, the requirements of this subdivision shall not apply if the state agency's official who is responsible for the acquisition determines that the value of the property being acquired is less than $25,000, based on assessment records or other objective evidence. Whenever the value of the property being acquired is determined to be between $10,000 and $25,000, the state agency, at the time an offer is made initiating negotiations, shall disclose to the owner or his designated representative that the offer has been established based on assessment records or other objective evidence and not an appraisal and that he may request that an appraisal be prepared and used as the basis for establishing just compensation pursuant to this section.

3. Before making an offer to acquire or initiating any related negotiations for real property, the state agency shall establish an amount which it believes to be just compensation therefor and shall make a prompt offer to acquire the property for the full amount so established. In no event shall such amount be less than the state agency's approved appraisal of the fair market value of such property, if such an appraisal is required, or the current assessed value of such property for real estate tax purposes, unless the property has physically changed in a material and substantial way since the current assessment date such that the real estate tax assessment no longer represents a fair valuation of the property, when the entire parcel for which the assessment is made is to be acquired, whichever is greater. 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 such property is acquired, or by the likelihood that the property would be acquired for such improvement, other than that due to physical deterioration within the reasonable control of the owner, shall be disregarded in determining the compensation for the property. The state agency concerned shall provide the owner of real property to be acquired with a written statement of, and summary of the basis for, the amount it established as just compensation and, if an appraisal is required or obtained, such written statement and summary shall include a complete copy of all appraisals of the real property to be acquired that the state agency obtained prior to making an offer to acquire or initiating any related negotiations for the real property. 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, (i) an amount not less than the state agency's approved appraisal of the fair market value of such property, if such an appraisal is required, or the current assessed value of such property for real estate tax purposes, unless the property has physically changed in a material and substantial way since the current assessment date such that the real estate tax assessment no longer represents a fair valuation of the property, when the entire parcel for which the assessment is made is to be acquired, whichever is greater, or (ii) 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 so scheduled that, to the greatest extent practicable, no person lawfully occupying real property shall be required to move from a dwelling, assuming a replacement dwelling will be available, or to move his business or farm operation, without at least 90-days' written notice from the state agency, of the date by which such move is required.

6. If the state 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. In no event shall the state agency 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 state agency shall institute formal condemnation proceedings. No state agency shall intentionally make it necessary for an owner to institute legal proceedings to prove the fact of the taking of his real property.

9. If the acquisition of only part of a property would leave its owner with an uneconomic remnant, the state agency concerned shall offer to acquire the entire property.

10. A person whose real property is being acquired in accordance with this article may, after the person has been fully informed of his right to receive just compensation for such property, donate such property, and part thereof, any interest therein, or any compensation paid therefor to a state agency, as such person shall determine.

B. The provisions of this section create no rights or liabilities and shall not affect the validity of any property acquisitions by purchase or condemnation.

C. Nothing in this section shall make evidence of tax assessments admissible as proof of value in an eminent domain proceeding.

1972, c. 738, §§ 25-235.1, 25-248; 2000, cc. 851, 1029; 2001, c. 260; 2003, c. 940; 2011, cc. 117, 190, 335; 2013, c. 764.

§ 25.1-417.1. Expired.

Expired.

§ 25.1-418. Reimbursement of owner for certain expenses.

Any state agency acquiring real property in connection with any program or project, as soon as practicable after the first to occur of 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, shall reimburse the owner, to the extent the state agency deems fair and reasonable, for expenses he necessarily incurred for (i) recording fees, transfer taxes and similar expenses incidental to conveying such real property to the state agency; (ii) penalty costs for prepayment for any preexisting recorded mortgage entered into in good faith encumbering such real property; and (iii) the pro rata portion of real property taxes paid that are allocable to a period subsequent to the first to occur of the date of vesting title in the state agency or the effective date of possession of such real property by the state agency.

Code 1950, §§ 33-75.06, 33.1-132.6; 1970, c. 40, § 25-249; 1972, c. 738; 2003, c. 940.

§ 25.1-419. Reimbursement of owner for costs when taking is abandoned or denied.

The court in which a condemnation proceeding is instituted by a state agency to acquire real property by condemnation shall award the owner of any right, title, or interest in such real property such sum as will, in the opinion of the court, reimburse such owner for his reasonable costs, disbursements, and expenses, including reasonable attorney, appraisal, and engineering fees, actually incurred because of the condemnation proceedings, if (i) the final judgment is that the state agency cannot acquire the real property by condemnation or (ii) the taking is abandoned by the state agency, in full or in part. The award of such sums shall be paid by the state agency that sought to condemn the property.

1972, c. 738, § 25-250; 2003, c. 940; 2019, c. 788.

§ 25.1-420. Reimbursement of owner for costs incurred in inverse condemnation proceeding.

If a declaratory judgment proceeding is instituted pursuant to § 8.01-187 by the owner of any right, title or interest in real property because of use of his property in any program or project undertaken by a state agency, and either (i) the court renders a judgment for the plaintiff in such proceeding and awards compensation for the damaging or taking of property or (ii) the Attorney General effects a settlement of any such proceeding in which the Commonwealth is a party, the court or Attorney General, as appropriate, shall determine and award or allow to such plaintiff, as a part of such judgment or settlement, such sum as will, in the opinion of the court or the Attorney General, as the case may be, reimburse such plaintiff for his reasonable costs, disbursements and expenses, including reasonable attorney, appraisal and engineering fees, actually incurred because of such proceeding.

1972, c. 738, § 25-251; 2003, c. 940; 2017, c. 735.

§ 25.1-421. Buildings, structures and other improvements on real property.

A. To the greatest extent practicable, where an interest in real property is acquired by a state agency, the state agency shall acquire an equal interest in all buildings, structures, or other improvements located upon the real property so acquired and that are required to be removed from such real property so acquired and that are determined to be adversely affected by the use to which such real property will be put.

B. For the purpose of determining the just compensation to be paid for any building, structure or other improvement required to be acquired as provided in subsection A, such building, structure or other improvement shall be deemed to be a part of the 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 such building, structure or improvement at the expiration of his term. In such event, the tenant shall be paid an amount equal to the greater of (i) the fair market value that such building, structure or improvement contributes to the fair market value of the real property to be acquired or (ii) the fair market value of such building, structure or improvement to be removed from the real property.

C. Payment for such building, structures or improvements as set forth in subsections A and B shall not result in duplication of any payments otherwise authorized by other laws of the Commonwealth. No such payment shall be made unless the owner of the land involved disclaims all interest in the improvements of the tenant. In consideration for any such payment, the tenant shall assign, transfer and release all his right, title and interest in and to such improvements. Nothing with regard to such 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 Commonwealth.

D. The provisions of this section create no rights or liabilities and shall not affect the validity of any property acquisitions by purchase or condemnation.

1972, c. 738, §§ 25-235.1, 25-252; 2003, c. 940.