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Substantial Damage/Elevation

A municipality’s floodplain manager is responsible for making the determination of “substantial damage,” which is defined as damage equal to or more than 50% of a home’s pre-storm fair market value. Such a determination will trigger certain obligations, including elevating the property above the base flood elevation requirements. The determination of substantial damage from the floodplain manager is often referred to as a Substantial Damage Letter, which states that the home is over 50% damaged. Applicants whose homes are substantially damaged are prioritized for funding in the RREM Program. If you are having trouble contacting your floodplain administrator, please contact your housing advisor.

Applicants were asked on their RREM application to indicate whether their home was greater than or less than fifty percent (50%) damaged. Once preliminarily approved for grant funding, applicants are required to provide evidence documenting their level of damage. If the applicant is unable to provide a substantial damage letter indicating whether the structure is 50% damaged, they may sign an acknowledgment form certifying their level of damage. For applicants who complete this self-certification, the RREM Program may conduct its own assessment of substantial damage and mandate elevation if the program deems the property to exceed 50% damage.

Substantial Damage Scenarios

Below are different scenarios involving substantial damage that may apply to homeowners:

  1. Homeowner’s house is substantially damaged and homeowner has received substantial damage letter from local floodplain manager.
    Because the homeowner has received a substantial damage letter from the municipality’s floodplain manager, the homeowner is required under FEMA regulations to elevate the lowest level of their home at least one foot above (or elevate consistent with local code rules if more stringent) the highest applicable 100-year flood level. Grant funds will be used toward elevation costs to help the homeowner meet elevation requirements.
  1. Homeowner indicated on their RREM application that the property is substantially damaged but is unable to provide documentation demonstrating they are substantially damaged.
    Despite the homeowner’s best efforts, a substantial damage letter is unable to be produced to prove substantial damage. The homeowner can sign the Substantial Damage Acknowledgement Form to attest that their home was over 50% damaged. By signing this form, the homeowner is attesting that they did not receive a Substantial Damage Letter yet they believe their property is substantially damaged. Additionally, the homeowner agrees to elevate the lowest level of their home at least one foot above (or elevate consistent with local code rules if more stringent) the highest applicable 100-year flood level. Grant funds will be used toward elevation costs to help homeowner meet elevation requirements.
  1. Homeowner indicated on their RREM application that their property is substantially damaged, but no longer believes they are substantially damaged.
    In this scenario, the homeowner indicated on their application that their property was substantially damaged but does not have a Substantial Damage Letter confirming this. Despite indicating on their RREM application that they were substantially damaged, the homeowner now no longer believes they were substantially damaged.

     

    The homeowner is responsible for obtaining a letter from their local floodplain manager that proves the property is not substantially damaged. Once provided, the applicant will be allowed to proceed forward in RREM without the mandate to elevate. Should the applicant be unable to obtain a letter from their floodplain manager, they should contact their Housing Advisor for next steps.

  1. Homeowner is not substantially damaged and has a letter from the local floodplain manager stating the home is not substantially damaged. Homeowner wants to elevate regardless of this determination.
    Homeowners sign the Non-Substantial Damaged Acknowledgement Form. By signing this form, the homeowner recognizes they are not substantially damaged. However, on this form the homeowner can voluntarily elect to elevate the dwelling. The RREM Program will consider elevation costs as eligible for grant funding. Grant funds will be used to pay to elevate the lowest level of their home at least one foot above (or elevate consistent with local code rules if more stringent) the highest applicable 100-year flood level.
  1. Homeowner attests they are not substantially damaged and has letter from local floodplain manager stating the home is not substantially damaged. Homeowner does not want to elevate.
    Homeowners will be required to sign the Non-Substantial Damage Acknowledgment Form. As stated in scenario 4, this form is signed by the homeowner to attest they are not substantially damaged. Homeowners can choose not to elevate their home. The RREM Program will provide funding to help repair the home, excluding costs that would be used for elevation.
  1. Homeowner indicates on their application they are not substantially damaged but does not have a letter from the local floodplain manager verifying this. Homeowner does not want to elevate.
    Homeowners will be required to sign the Non-Substantial Damage Acknowledgment Form. As stated in scenario 4, this form is signed by the homeowner to attest they are not substantially damaged. Homeowners can choose not to elevate their home. However, the RREM Program will conduct its own review of the property to determine whether or not the structure is substantially damaged. If the Program determination indicates the property is greater than 50% damaged, the Program will require the applicant to elevate the home as part of their participation in RREM.

Elevation

RREM applicants who are substantially damaged are required to elevate. Homeowners will be required to elevate the lowest level of their home at least one foot above (or elevate consistent with local code rules if more stringent) the highest applicable 100-year flood level. The RREM Program uses data from FEMA to determine what the base flood elevation is for the home in that particular area. To gain further insight into what your base flood elevation is, please visit: http://www.region2coastal.com/sandy/table. Remember, if your local floodplain manager requires elevation higher than indicated by FEMA, the RREM Program will abide by the higher elevation requirement.

The requirement to elevate if substantially damaged is not limited to just traditional housing. In accordance with the National Flood Insurance Program, all substantially damaged dwellings must be elevated to local base flood elevation requirements. This may include townhouses, row homes, multi-unit dwelling, manufactured housing units and condominiums. Please note that this is a brief overview of possible scenarios. If you are a homeowner who owns a substantially damaged dwelling, please work with your Housing Advisor and RREM Project Manager for a more detailed analysis of your property. Each substantially damaged dwelling will have its own set of circumstances that will be need to be reviewed on a case by case basis.

 

Townhouses

  • Homeowner is requested to complete the Special Dwelling Unit Questionnaire to assist the RREM Program with processing information regarding your property.
  • Homeowner must follow all building codes and local zoning ordinances.
  • Homeowner should seek prior approval from their townhouse association, if applicable.
  • Home will need to be detached from adjoining structures if elevation is necessary.

Row Homes

  • Homeowner is requested to complete the Special Dwelling Unit Questionnaire to assist the RREM Program with processing information regarding your property.
  • Homeowner must follow all building codes and local zoning ordinances.
  • Elevation generally requires substantial renovations/rehabbing.

Multi-Unit Dwelling

  • Homeowner is requested to complete the Special Dwelling Unit Questionnaire to assist the RREM Program with processing information regarding your property.
  • Homeowner must follow all building codes and local zoning ordinances.
  • Homeowners need to be aware that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has laws such as the Uniform Relocation Act (URA) that may apply. Homeowners should be aware that the URA is a document meant to protect tenant’s rights and this may impact the elevation process.

Condominium

  • Homeowner is requested to complete the Special Dwelling Unit Questionnaire to assist the RREM Program with processing information regarding your property.
  • Homeowner must follow all building codes and local zoning ordinances.
  • Homeowner should inform their condominium association that they have submitted an application to the RREM Program.
  • Homeowner should learn whether or not the entire condominium structure has been deemed substantially damaged by the local floodplain manager and provide this information to the RREM Program.

Manufactured Housing Units (commonly referred to as Trailer Homes)

  • Please note, RV-style mobile homes are ineligible.
  • Homeowner is requested to complete the Special Dwelling Unit Questionnaire to assist the RREM Program with processing information regarding your property.
  • Homeowner must follow all building codes and local zoning ordinances.
  • Homeowner should learn what the local park’s rules on unit placement are.
  • Homeowners may elect to move their home to another pre-approved location within the same county.