Housing After a Disaster

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab

About

Housing After a Disaster

This page provides information about the legal issues a person may encounter with their housing after a disaster. Access to safe, stable housing is critical to the well-being of a community after a disaster declaration.

This information can help: 

  • Renters - Landlord/Tenant & Eviction Issues 
  • Homeowners

The legal timeline below goes over the various housing legal needs that a disaster survivor might encounter. Expand each section of the timeline to learn about the various issues a disaster survivor might face. Each issue below is included as information in the relevant tabs on this page. 

Housing Legal Needs After a Disaster

These are some of the issues that disaster survivors might face related to housing in the short term - 1 to 6 weeks after a disaster event: 

  • Proving home ownership by title 

  • Paying for a Mortgage and Loan Payment Forbearance

  • Contacting utility companies to stop or hold services

  • Paying rent for a damaged or destroyed home

  • Landlords' obligation to repair rental property

  • Mold growth and clean up

  • Hiring contractors after a disaster 

  • Apply for FEMA Housing Assistance

  • Apply for SBA Loan Assistance

These are some of the issues that disaster survivors might face related to housing in the medium term - 1 to 6 months after the disaster event: 

  • Making repairs to home property  

  • Telling the landlord about damages and asking the landlord to make repairs

  • Dealing with repairs and contractors

  • Dealing with a landlord’s refusal to make repairs to damaged or destroyed property

  • Requesting a security deposit back for a damaged or destroyed home

  • Renter displacement

  • Contacting utility companies 

  • Mortgage loan obligations and mortgage hardship

  • Determining Any Applicable Foreclosure Moratoriums

  • Working with contractors and repair services

  • Receiving Payment Under Homeowners and Flood Insurance with mortgages

  • Avoiding Fraudulent Contractors

  • Avoiding foreclosure

These are some of the issues that disaster survivors might face related to housing in the long-term - 6 months to years after a disaster event: 

  • Protecting yourself from mortgage scams including repayment and modification scams

  • Avoiding disaster fraud

  • Looking out for municipal code issues

  • Keeping records of property including lease documents and home inventory 

  • Check for Homeowner's Insurance Coverage

  • Get Flood Insurance

Renters

Landlord/Tenant & Eviction Issues

What Can Renters Do After A Disaster

Renters must consider and be aware of an array of legal issues and problems after a disaster. Disaster survivors may return home to damaged or destroyed property after a disaster.

Necessary Repairs. A landlord must keep a home in good repair and make sure that it is habitable - safe and clean. Renters must communicate with their landlords. Renters should tell landlords about any home that needs repairs. Renters must allow the landlord a reasonable time to make the repair.

Totally Destroyed Property. When the tenant returns to a destroyed home after a disaster they may have other rights to end their lease. A tenant must communicate with a landlord.

Eviction or property abandonment. Renters must be aware of the risk of eviction due to a disaster event. Renters who evacuate during a disaster should tell their landlord. Renters who leave and do not return for some time can risk abandoning the property.

Learn more about landlord/tenant and eviction issues by checking out the resources: 

Homeowners

For Homeowners After a Disaster

What Homeowners Can Do About Disasters

Homeowners can deal with an array of legal issues and problems after a disaster. Homeowners may return following a disaster event to a damaged or destroyed home. Access to safe and stable housing is a priority following a disaster event.

Homeowners may need help with making insurance claims. They may also need to follow up to get more funds from FEMA or the Small Business Administration (SBA). A homeowner might also need help with their mortgage after a disaster. A homeowner can find help with their mortgage payments when they are in an area affected by a disaster.

Learn more by checking out the resources: 

Last Review and Update: Sep 29, 2022
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