Project Right-of-Way Acquisition
The Harris County Flood Control District builds projects that reduce the risk of flooding while respecting community and natural values. To build projects, which include widening and deepening bayous and their tributaries and constructing large stormwater detention basins, the District often needs to acquire additional land for right-of-way, which could include homes, businesses, churches and other structures.
Landowners are fairly compensated for their property during this process. The basic steps of property acquisition by the District are described in the following sections.
How does the Property Acquisition process work?
When acquiring right-of-way for a project, the District aims to purchase property from willing sellers through the acquisition process. While selling property to the District may seem complicated, the process is typically simple and straightforward:
- The District notifies each landowner that his or her property is needed for a project.
- Information about the landowner’s property is transferred from the District to the Harris County Real Property Division, which will carry out the remaining steps for acquiring the property.
- The Real Property Division sends the landowner a letter, including the name of the independent appraiser hired by the Real Property Division to determine fair market value of the property, and a copy of the Texas Landowner’s Bill of Rights.
- The appraiser contacts the landowner to make an appointment to appraise the property.
- An acquisition agent from the Real Property Division makes an offer for the property, based on the appraised value. The landowner typically has 45 days to decide whether to accept the offer, make a counter offer, or reject the offer.
Accepting the offer
- Once the landowner accepts the offer and the appropriate paperwork is completed, a closing date for the property is set. Closing typically takes place about six weeks from the time the offer is accepted.
- At closing, the landowner receives payment, and the District receives the deed for the property.
- Unlike a typical real estate transaction, closing costs are not deducted from the agreed-upon sales price, with the exception of payments for items owed such as existing mortgages, liens and property taxes. The District pays all other closing costs and expenses.
Making a counter offer
If the landowner disagrees with the appraised value, the landowner may hire and pay for a second appraiser as a basis for making a counter offer. The landowner’s appraisal will be evaluated by the Real Property Division.
Rejecting the offer
If negotiations are unsuccessful and the landowner disagrees with the amount of the offer made on behalf of the District, the judicial process of condemnation will be used as an independent process to determine the fair market value of the property. A discussion of the condemnation process is contained in the Texas Landowner’s Bill of Rights.
Financial assistance for Relocation
In addition to paying fair market value for the property, the District provides relocation assistance in accordance with federal guidelines. The landowner may be eligible for the following financial supplements and assistance:
- A housing supplement, which may be necessary to make up the difference between the purchase price of the landowner’s property and a comparable property available today.
- Closing costs on the existing property and the property purchased to replace it.
- Additional costs from any increase in the mortgage interest rate.
- Moving costs.
Qualified renters may be eligible for relocation assistance that can be used to lease or purchase a replacement property. Renters are entitled to reimbursement of their moving costs.
Questions about Property Acquisition?
The Harris County Real Propery Division handles most of the day-to-day actions in the Property Acquisition process, and should be contacted at 713-355-7750 if you have questions about the Property Acquisition process.
The Harris County Flood Control District works closely with landowners affected by our flood damage reduction projects. Your concerns are important to us, and we want to hear any comments or questions you might have. Please contact us at 713-684-4000.