How to document home ownership and occupancy for FEMA: A guide for disaster survivors

June 4, 2024

FEMA simplifies ownership verification for disaster aid

As reported by FEMA, new measures have been introduced to simplify the process for disaster survivors in Carter, Hughes, Love, Murray, Okmulgee, Osage, Pontotoc, and Washita counties to verify ownership and occupancy of damaged primary residences.

These steps follow the severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes, and flooding that began on April 25, 2024.

To receive Housing Assistance and other types of aid, owners and renters must prove they occupied the disaster-damaged residence.

FEMA now accepts a broader range of documents to establish ownership and occupancy, making the process more accessible for survivors.

Documenting home ownership

Homeowners can provide various official documents to prove ownership.

These include the original deed or deed of trust, mortgage statements, property tax receipts, or a manufactured home certificate or title.

Additionally, FEMA now accepts letters from public officials or receipts for major repairs and improvements.

For those with heirship properties, mobile homes, or travel trailers lacking traditional documentation, self-certification is accepted as a last resort.

Homeowners who verified ownership from a previous disaster at the same address need only do so once.

FEMA has also extended the eligibility date for documents from three months to one year before the disaster.

Proving occupancy for disaster assistance

Applicants must show that they lived in the dwelling at the time of the disaster.

Official documentation for this can include utility bills, bank or credit card statements, phone bills, an employer’s statement, written lease agreements, or rent receipts.

FEMA also accepts motor vehicle registrations, letters from local schools, federal or state benefit providers, social service organizations, or court documents as proof of occupancy.

Additionally, a signed statement from a commercial or mobile home park owner or self-certification for a mobile home or travel trailer is valid as a last resort.

Occupancy verified to FEMA within a two-year period from a previous disaster does not need to be re-verified.

Applying for FEMA disaster assistance

Survivors can apply for FEMA disaster assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov, via the FEMA smartphone app, or by calling 800-621-3362.

Assistance is available in multiple languages, and relay service users should provide FEMA with their relay service number.

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