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Hurricane Irma and Property Taxes

First and foremost, I hope you all are safe from Hurricane Irma’s recent path of destruction.

Several clients have asked me if the damage they experienced from the hurricane will impact their property tax valuation. The answer is: possibly, but not for this year.

The property tax valuation for 2017 is based on the market value (including the condition) of your property as of January 1st, 2017. Any damage to your home after January 1, 2017 will not be considered for the 2017 valuation but may be considered for the 2018 valuation.

There are several scenarios where the 2018 valuation is affected by the hurricane.

First, if you property experienced hurricane damage and the damage is not repaired prior to January 1, 2018, you may have a case for reduction. However, if you experienced damage to the property from Irma, but repaired the damages prior to January 1, 2018, it would be more difficult to claim a reduction based solely on the damages.

Please note however, that a substantial repair/remodeling, including an addition, to your home after a storm, can cause you to lose your current SOH valuation protection. 

According to Florida Law, if the square footage of your improved Homesteaded property is greater than 110 percent of the square footage of the homestead property before the damage or destruction, the property appraiser will re-assess your property at the just value of your property – not taking into consideration your previous valuation. 

Section 155(4)(b) of the Florida Statutes, states that any:

“…changes, additions, or improvements that replace all or a portion of homestead property damaged or destroyed by misfortune or calamity shall not increase the homestead property’s assessed value when the square footage of the homestead property as changed or improved does not exceed 110 percent of the square footage of the homestead property before the damage or destruction. Additionally, the homestead property’s assessed value shall not increase if the total square footage of the homestead property as changed or improved does not exceed 1,500 square feet.”

In 2005 however, the Florida Legislature amended the Florida Statutes to account for the number of hurricanes that tore through Florida in 2004. According to Section 193.1551 of the Florida Statutes, 

“…the assessment at just value for changes, additions, or improvements to homestead property rendered uninhabitable in one or more of the named storms of 2004 shall be limited to the square footage exceeding 110 percent of the homestead property’s total square footage. Additionally, homes having square footage of 1,350 square feet or less which were rendered uninhabitable may rebuild up to 1,500 total square feet and the increase in square footage shall not be considered as a change, an addition, or an improvement that is subject to assessment at just value. The provisions of this section are limited to homestead properties in which repairs are commenced by January 1, 2008, and apply retroactively to January 1, 2005.”

In other words, for anyone who rebuilt their home as a result of a 2004 storm, did not lose their lower Save Our Homes valuation when they rebuilt their homes over 110% of the previous size of the home. 

However, this statute only applies to the 2004 storms. I will speak to my friends in the Florida Legislature and see if they anticipate something similar for Irma. In the meantime, if you are planning on rebuilding or significantly changing your home as a result of storm damage, contact me about any property tax issues.

Seth Lubin