332,000 Puerto Rican household applications for FEMA assistance were denied, leaving residents in essentially uninhabitable homes more than a year after Hurricane Maria slammed into the island.
The reason behind many of these rejections is agency policies that require assistance applicants prove they own and occupy the damaged property. The problem with these policies and regulations is that the legal code of Puerto Rico is based on centuries-old Spanish colonial rule – namely, that unless you have a mortgage, you don’t need a deed.
To complicate the issue further, most property in Puerto Rico, especially in the rural areas is passed informally from family member to family member, and most of these transactions are not recorded. And nearly half of the dwellings in Puerto Rico were built without permits or plans, and many do not have a formal address for utility bills leaving FEMA unable to match applicants to properties.
And as many Puerto Ricans have discovered, most assistance applications are denied, even after being appealed. But a new declaration form will allow applicants to assert ownership, and they won’t require notarization, another issue on the island. But most property owners don’t know about the new form and that they have a second chance to apply for assistance.
If your insurance provider has unfairly denied, delayed, or underpaid your legitimate Hurricane Maria damage claims, contact us today. We’ve been fighting for the rights of property owners across the island and the mainland for decades, and we will fight for you. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.