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Verifying Home Ownership or Occupancy

Proof of Occupancy

Proof of Ownership

Expanded Flexibility

FEMA is required to verify you lived at the address in your application as your primary residence before providing most types of IHP Assistance. FEMA is also required to verify you owned your home before providing Home Repair or Replacement Assistance.

As part of our effort to make the disaster assistance process quicker and reduce the burden on applicants, we try to verify occupancy and ownership by using an automated public records search.

If we cannot verify you lived in or owned the home that you listed in your application, we will ask you to provide documents to prove occupancy and/or ownership to help us determine if you are eligible for assistance.

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We understand that providing documents after experiencing a disaster can be challenging. We recently implemented new policies to reduce access barriers experienced by underserved populations.

FEMA now accepts more types of documents to verify ownership and occupancy, and also accepts documents from a wider range of dates than we accepted in the past.

Read more about recent Individual Assistance policy changes.

Proof of Occupancy

FEMA accepts the following documents as proof you lived in your home before the declared disaster. You only need to provide one of the documents listed below.

  • Lease or housing agreement.
  • Rent receipts.
  • Utility bill (electric, water/sewer, etc.).
  • Pay stub.
  • Bank or credit card statement.
  • Driver's license, state issued identification card, or voter registration card.
  • Public official's statement.
  • Medical provider's bill.
  • Social service organization documents (e.g. Meals on Wheels).
  • Motor vehicle registration.
  • Affidavits of Residency or other court documentation.
  • Letter or mail delivered to your address from an employer, public official, social service organization, local school or school district, mobile home park owner or manager.

Most documents can be dated within 1 year prior to the disaster and/or within the 18-month period of assistance.  However, your driver’s license, state-issued identification card, or voter registration card must have been dated before the disaster happened and not have expired when you send a copy to FEMA.

Proof of Ownership

FEMA accepts the following documents as proof you owned your home before the declared disaster. You only need to provide one of the documents listed below.

  • Deed or title.
  • Mortgage documentation.
  • Homeowners insurance documentation.
  • Property tax receipt or bill.
  • Manufactured home certificate or title.
  • Home purchase contracts.
  • Last will and testament (with death certificate) naming you heir to the property.
  • Receipts for major repairs or maintenance dated within 5 years prior to the disaster.
  • Letter prepared after the disaster from a mobile home park owner or manager or public official that meet FEMA requirements.

Most documents can be dated within 1 year prior to the disaster or within the 18-month period of assistance.

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The fastest and easiest way to send FEMA your documentation to prove occupancy or ownership is by uploading them online to DisasterAssistance.gov

Expanded Flexibility

While we expect the recent changes we’ve made to accept more types of documents to make the disaster assistance process easier, FEMA understands that disaster survivors in some situations may experience additional difficulty gathering specific documents. As a result, FEMA has made recent policy changes to provide additional flexibility to allow applicants who are unable to provide the standard types of documents to provide written self-declarative statements as a last resort in specific situations.

Proof of Occupancy

If your pre-disaster residence was a mobile home or travel trailer and you do not have any acceptable forms of occupancy, FEMA may accept a written self-declarative statement as a last resort, due to challenges with obtaining traditional forms of documentation for these types of homes.

FEMA may also accept a written self-declarative statement from applicants living in insular areas, islands, and tribal lands, but the statement must be provided to FEMA in writing and cannot solely be viewed by an inspector.

A self-declarative statement for proof of occupancy must include all of the below items:

  1. The address of the disaster-damaged residence.
  2. Length of time you lived in the disaster-damaged home, as your primary residence, prior to the Presidential disaster declaration.
  3. Your or your co-applicant’s name and signature.
  4. The major elements of the following statement and additional explanation:

"I have made a good faith effort, in coordination with FEMA, to obtain and provide a copy of acceptable occupancy documentation. I was unable to obtain this documentation because [provide an explanation of the circumstances that prevent standard occupancy verification to include why the other document types were not available to the applicant or how the available documents do not meet FEMA's requirements]. I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct."

Proof of Ownership

If you own a home, live in an insular area, island, or tribal land or in a travel trailer or mobile home, and do not have any acceptable forms of ownership, FEMA, as a last resort, will accept a written self-declarative statement as proof of ownership.

A self-declarative statement for proof of ownership must include all of the below items:

  1. The address of the disaster-damaged residence.
  2. Length of time you lived in the disaster-damaged home, as your primary residence, prior to the Presidential disaster declaration.
  3. Your or your co-applicant’s name and signature.
  4. The major elements of the following statement and additional explanation:

"I have made a good faith effort, in coordination with FEMA, to obtain and provide a copy of acceptable ownership documentation. I do meet FEMA's definition of an owner-occupant because I am either (A) the legal owner of the home. (B) pay no rent, but am responsible for the payment of taxes or maintenance for the residence, or (C) hold lifetime occupancy rights. I was unable to obtain this documentation because [provide an explanation of the circumstances that prevent standard ownership verification of the appropriate owner-occupant category]. I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct."

If you own and live in a home that was passed down via heirship and do not have any acceptable forms of ownership, FEMA, as a last resort, will accept a written self-declarative statement as proof of ownership.

A self-declarative statement for proof of ownership passed down via heirship must include all of the below items:

  1. The address of the disaster-damaged residence.
  2. Length of time you lived in the disaster-damaged home, as your primary residence, prior to the  Presidential disaster declaration.
  3. Your or your co-applicant’s name and signature.
  4. A copy of the decedent’s death certification.
  5. The major elements of the following statement and additional explanation:

"I have made a good faith effort, in coordination with FEMA, to obtain and provide a copy of acceptable ownership documentation. I was unable to obtain this documentation because [provide an explanation of the circumstances that prevent standard ownership verification]."

AND, the major elements of the following statement:

"As the nearest relative of the deceased in the line of succession, my ownership includes all the rights and obligations of the deceased. The decedent's name is ________________, and they died on ________________. I understand I must submit the death certificate along with this declaration. I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct."