In a similar situation to what happened in Louisiana in 2005 when multiple hurricanes ravaged the state, victims of the storms that ravaged Puerto Rico this past summer are struggling to prove home ownership. Claims for funding are being denied for the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico because they cannot prove they own the homes they lost or that were damaged.
The issue in 2005 came about when people were living in the homes their parents or grandparents owned. They never had the paperwork transferred into their names and this became a problem when applying for flood damage claims to repair or rebuild the damaged homes. The Road Home program began demanding documentation to prove home ownership to award funding.
Advocacy groups are calling for a legal literacy system in Louisiana regarding the documentation of home ownership. These groups want people to understand that de facto ownership will not help them when trying to use the property as an asset, even if the de facto owner is paying for homeowners’ insurance and are paying the property taxes. The property still needs to be in their name on all the required documents.
Residents of Puerto Rico, who have lived in their handed-down homes for decades, have struggled to acquire funding from FEMA following recent hurricanes. The residents simply do not have titles to their homes because when they were built, they were done so using a handshake agreement with other landowners in the area.
“As important as it is to have the proper documentation when you own a property, it can be difficult to acquire the documents after ownership has changed hands over the years,” J. Price McNamara, a Baton Rouge flood damage claims attorney of the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara, said. “Preparing now will make dealing with a natural disaster just a little bit easier when you need to apply for relief funding.”
Storm victims in both Puerto Rico and Louisiana are receiving denial letters from FEMA that state the following: “Assistance not approved because you were unable to prove that you owned the home at the time of the disaster,” according to The Times-Picayune.
There is no limit to the amount of times someone can apply for relief funding from FEMA. If you or someone you know is in this position, a Baton Rouge flood damage claims lawyer may be able to help you find a way to successfully apply for funding.