From severe flooding to lost power, Hurricane Irma left widespread damage throughout Florida. As families continue to deal with the aftermath, it can be confusing on how to move forward. Whether you are a homeowner, homebuyer, or even a tenant, below is a helpful guide on what the next steps may be for you. For those looking for ways to help, a list of resources is available at the end.
Click the header below to jump to the section that applies to you!
– I cannot pay my mortgage. What are my options?
– What rights do tenants and landlords have if Hurricane Irma damaged their rental unit?
– I was under contract to buy a home when Hurricane Irma hit. The home was damaged.
– Helpful Resources for Those Negatively Impacted by Hurricane Irma.
– How Can I Help Those In Need?
I cannot pay my mortgage. What are my options?
Call your Lender directly and ask about a Mortgage Forbearance. If you live in a federally declared disaster area (current list), most lenders are offering a 3 month Forbearance on your Mortgage Payments (if requested). It should be at no cost and have no credit implications until the end of the forbearance period. At the end of the 3 months, you do have to bring your mortgage current with a lump sum payment or risk the loan going to loan mitigation. Forbearance may help relieve the financial stress of hurricane expenses and clean-up temporarily, but it does have implications later. Unless there is a real need, you may not want to request a forbearance period.
For more tips about mortgages and handling property damage as a homeowner, click to read this insightful article from Nerd Wallet.
What rights do tenants and landlords have if Hurricane Irma damaged their rental unit?
It all depends on your lease agreement. Read through it to see if an “act of God”, hurricanes, and other catastrophic events are mentioned.
Florida Statute 83.63, Casualty Damage, deals with rental units that are damaged or destroyed “other than by the wrongful or negligent acts of the tenant.” If “the enjoyment of the premises is substantially impaired, the tenant may terminate rental agreement and immediately vacate the premises.”
If the tenant only vacates part of the premises – the part rendered unusable by the casualty – then the rent “shall be reduced by the fair rental value of that part of the premises damaged or destroyed.”
For a more in-depth discussion, click here to read more.
You will need to contact your mortgage company and real estate agent. Depending on your type of loan, lenders will address the damage differently – they may send the appraiser back out, allow you to sign an affidavit, or if the property is deemed unsafe, you may have to wait until all repairs are made and a certificate of occupancy is issued. Your lender will be able to direct you on the next steps to continue with securing your mortgage and closing on the property.
If you are in a NEFAR contract, below is a general breakdown of how damage is addressed. Again call your real estate agent to clarify further. If there is any damage:
- Seller must immediately notify Buyer in Writing.
- If cost is less than 3%, Seller must repair and closing proceeds.
- If cost is more than 3%, Buyer may terminate within 10 days.
- If buyer does not wish to terminate, Seller has 30 days from end of 10 day period to repair/closing within 20 days.
- If buyer does not wish to terminate and Seller declines to pay repairs in excess of 3%, the buyer can purchase the property “as is” OR Buyer can terminate – within 5 days after notice of refusal to pay the excess.
Helpful Resources for Those Negatively Impacted by Hurricane Irma:
- 1 (866) 550-2929 – Free Legal Aid Hotline for Those Who Cannot Afford an Attorney (available in Spanish and English)
- (877) 693-5236 – Florida’s free Insurance Consumer Helpline for insurance questions
- 1-800-385-3920 – Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) Program offers assistance to businesses and residents whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted due to Irma
- Florida Chief Financial Officer’s webpage to assist consumers with filing claims
- Florida Office of Insurance Regulation Hurricane Resource Page
- HUD Disaster Resource Page
- FEMA Assistance Application Page
How Can I Help Those In Need?
- Red Cross Donations
- Salvation Army
- Donate at a Local Jacksonville Berkshire Hathaway Office
- Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund