Lose Your Home to a Government Construction Project? You’re Likely Eligible for Government Help

It’s construction season again in Minnesota, as many of us have already experienced on our daily commutes. Public projects cause short-term frustration, but often result in better infrastructure and services in the long run.

However, for some people, public projects are more than short-term annoyances. Individuals and families can lose their homes to public projects through the laws of eminent domain. Business owners can lose their commercial spaces, too.

If a public project threatens to take your property, you are likely eligible for assistance from either the State of Minnesota or the federal government. The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act, or Uniform Relocation Act,[AL1]  provides homeowners with financial assistance when a state or federally funded project demands their property.

Am I eligible for Uniform Relocation Act assistance?

Yes, if you, your family or your business are being displaced by a project that’s fully or partially funded by the State of Minnesota, your local unit of government or the federal government. This is true whether you own or rent your home or own or rent the site on which your business is located. If you’re eligible, you may receive an eligibility letter in mail, but that does not always happen. You may also be assigned an Agency Relocation Counselor to help walk you through the program, but that not always happen either. If you are being forced to move from your home or site of your business, your first call should be to an attorney with experience in assisting people who are being displaced. If you wouldn’t trust the IRS to do your taxes, why should you trust the government to assist you with paying you your relocation benefits? I can help you understand your rights and the assistance for which you are eligible.

What kind of relocation support can I get?

Your counselor will provide you with a list of homes that are of comparable value to the home you’re losing. These homes must meet the program’s safety standards. But you don’t have to purchase a home on your counselor’s list. If you find another home that meets the program’s standards, you could be eligible for assistance. Families who rent can get help with their search, too.

Also, remember to negotiate the price of your current home with the government. An attorney can advocate for you so you get a fair price for your home. That will help ensure the list your counselor provides will be truly comparable to what you’re losing.

Individuals and families may also be eligible for financial help with moving costs and the transfer of utilities.

What kind of financial assistance can homeowners get?

Homeowners who have owned their homes for more than 180 days are eligible for a purchase supplement. This supplement covers the difference between what you received for your current home and the cost of your next home. If the government purchased your home for $100,000 and your new home costs $110,000, your purchase supplement will be $10,000.  Often times, the supplement is much more than that.

Homeowners who have owned their homes for less than 180 days will get rental assistance instead of a purchase supplement. You may also be eligible for down payment assistance on your next home.

What kind of financial assistance can renters get?

Renters are eligible for rental assistance under the Uniform Act if they’ve lived in their homes for 90 days or more. The assistance lasts for 42 months and is paid in a lump sum. That payment is designed to reimburse tenants for their increased rent and utility costs. Down payment assistance is also available to eligible renters to help them purchase a home of their own.

What kind of financial assistance can business owners get?

If your business is being forced to move, the types of benefits for which you are entitled to receive depend upon whether you owned or rented your displacement site.  The relocation benefits paid to businesses are a very complex matrix of benefits that most people, including very experienced lawyers, do not fully understand. If your business is a tenant, it is extremely important you have an attorney involved very early in the process to ensure that all of your interests are protected and to ensure you receive the maximum amount of relocation benefits for which your business is entitled o received.  The government does not have to pay business for down time and lost profits caused by the move, therefore, it is essential that displaced businesses recover all other eligible costs.

The Uniform Relocation Act is intended to provide relocation help to people who are forced to move from their homes and businesses. But the system isn’t perfect. That’s why it’s important to hire a relocation benefits law attorney to help you through the process. Contact Jon Morphew and the Morphew Law Office, PLLC at 612-790-9189 today for a free consultation.

Brynne Turner