Lee County reduces time frame for 50% rule from five years to one

Reporter: Samantha Johns Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Hurricane Ian damage. (Credit: WINK News)

Relief is on the way for homeowners facing FEMA’s 50% rule. Lee County voted to shorten the reach-back rule from five years to one.

That could help people rebuild without the added cost of bringing their properties up to the current code.

This is a relief for many families who’ve been on the fence about whether to start making repairs to their homes.

For many, it is hard enough dealing with all the damage, but what’s made matters worse for Hurricane Ian victims is working around the 50% rule.

“These homes, these 21,000 structures, we all know they’re not gonna be bulldozed,” said Paul Beattie, who is a licensed contractor who works with families on how to make sense of the federal provision.

FEMA, as part of the National Flood Insurance Program, says repairs to damaged structures cannot exceed 50% of the value of the building. If they do, you must bring your home up to the current code.

The 50% decreases if you’ve made repairs or upgrades to your home. In Lee County, they’d look at the work done over the last five years.

For example, for a home worth $100,000, with $50,000 in damage from Hurricane Ian, if you did no work on the home, you can rebuild without bringing the structure up to code. If you made $10,000 worth of improvements to the house three years ago, you could only afford $40,000 in damage.

For this example, FEMA would subtract that $10,000 from your allowable $50,000 in damage, meaning you have to bring the home up to the current code to repair the $50,000 from the storm.

On Tuesday, Lee County reduced the time frame from five years to one year.

Using that same example above, the homeowner could now rebuild without bringing the house up to current building standards because those previous repairs fall outside the new timeframe.

“I think what we’ve done to try and help ease the pain on people is we’re getting rid of that five-year look back, and I think that’s a really good move on our part to do that,” said Lee County commissioner Brian Hamman

For some families, this is the final blow. They now know they will have to bring their homes up to the current code.

If you have any questions, Lee County recommends anyone still not sure what to do hire a licensed contractor to evaluate the damage and apply the 50% rule.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.