San Juan, Puerto Rico — As more survivors from Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico apply for disaster assistance for their damaged homes, FEMA home inspections have gained momentum across the island. Survivors must know what to expect during a home inspection to ensure their application continues to move forward.
Typically, after a survivor applies for disaster assistance, a FEMA inspector will contact them within a few days to schedule an appointment. The inspector’s phone number may be from out of state or show up on caller ID as “unavailable”.
For the survivor’s protection, the inspector may ask the survivor to verify personally identifiable information (PII) by phone.
When the FEMA inspector calls, write down:
The inspector’s name
Date of call
Date and time of appointment
Inspector’s telephone number
The inspector will attempt contact three times on different days and times of the day to schedule an appointment to conduct the inspection. If the survivor cannot be reached, a letter and/or e-mail will be sent to the address provided at the time of application.
If a FEMA home inspector contacts you, but no one in the household applied for FEMA disaster assistance, inform the inspector and ask for the application to be withdrawn. Also notify FEMA via the Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.
During the Inspection
A typical inspection takes up to 45 minutes to complete. You or your designated co-applicant will need to meet with an inspector and provide a photo ID. You may invite another individual such as a household member, relative or friend to help communicate with the inspector.
If you need a reasonable accommodation or a sign language interpreter to communicate with FEMA, please send an email to FEMA-PRaccesible@fema.dhs.gov. You can also call 1-833-285-7448, press 2 for Spanish.
If you or your co-applicant are unable to meet with an inspector, a third-party can be designated in writing and pre-authorized before the scheduled time and date.
FEMA never charges a fee for an inspection. The inspector carries an official photo ID and will never ask for bank information. The inspector will attempt to verify the applicant’s name, address, contact information, occupancy and ownership status and insurance coverage.
The inspector will walk through the home to assess the condition of both damaged and non-damaged areas, noting disaster caused damage to real property (structural) and conducting a complete inventory of all damaged and non-damaged essential personal property (appliances, furniture, etc.).
The inspector will ask questions about disaster-caused losses and expenses including medical expenses, moving and storage expenses, items purchased in response to the disaster, uniforms, supplies, and tools required for school or employment.
Inspectors will not climb on roofs. Photos may be taken of the interior and exterior of the home during the inspection process. In situations where the home is inaccessible, the inspector may meet with the survivor at another location to conduct an initial assessment and verify identity, occupancy and/or ownership.
If you suspect an inspector isn’t who they say they are, tell them to leave immediately and call local law enforcement.
After the Inspection
FEMA will mail you a decision letter about eligibility for assistance. To receive updates and notifications faster, create an online DisasterAssistance.gov account after applying for FEMA assistance.
Information gathered during the inspection is only one of several criteria used by FEMA to determine eligibility for assistance. If you have questions after your inspection, please call FEMA’s Helpline at 1-800-621-3362. Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish and 3 for all other languages. People who use a relay service such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, provide FEMA the number for that service. Phone lines operate from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.