duck key

An Information Guide to Duck Key in the Florida Keys
























Insurance Inspection Letters in Monroe County


Posted October 2007

Additional Information added November 2007


Have you received an insurance inspection letter? At least four people on Duck Key have. The image of just such a letter together with the text is provided below.

Illegal Downstairs Enclosures

Monroe County has agreed to inspect down stairs enclosures to verify that structures comply with the community's flood plain management ordinances. An inspection may be called for because a home has been identified as possibly being in violation of your community's floodplain management ordinance and could be a requirement before your current flood insurance policy can be renewed.






Processed by: National Flood Services
PO Box 2057, Kalispell, MT 59903-2057

Insured Name/Address Policy # and Property Location not shown here

Community Inspection Program

Inspection Notice

Effective December 31. 2000. changes were made to your flood insurance policy to support a Community Inspection Procedure of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The requirements of the Community Inspection Procedure will only apply to your building if it is in a Special Flood Hazard Area and has been identified as a possible violation of your community's floodplain management ordinance. The inspection procedure was established to help local officials in your community verify that structures comply with the community's flood plain management ordinance and to ensure that property owners pay flood insurance premiums that accurately reflect the risk of flooding.

Local officials in your community have identified your building as being a possible violation of the community's floodplain management ordinance. An inspection of your building by the community is a requirement before your current flood insurance policy can be renewed.

You are responsible for contacting the community to arrange for the inspection of your building. If your property is located in unincorporated Monroe County contact the Growth Management Division of Monroe County at telephone -number (305) 289-2518 to make an appointment for your inspection. Property owners in the Village of Islamorada should contact the Village's Building Department at telephone number (305) 664-2345. Property owners in the City of Marathon should call (305) 743-0033.

Two copies of the Community Inspection Report will be provided to you after the inspection. One copy must accompany your renewal bill and premium to permit the renewal of your flood insurance policy. We will review the information provided by the inspection report to ensure that your policy is rated correctly. If it is discovered your policy is rated incorrectly, you will be given the choice of paying additional premium or accepting lower limits of coverage.

Any questions about why your building was identified as being in possible violation of the floodplain management ordinance should be directed to the appropriate community at the telephone numbers listed above.

Insured Copy


Information added in November of 2007

Several residents on Center island received inspection letters. One owner who received the letter talked to Monroe County officials and was told if

"we didn't remove our bedroom, bath and kitchen in our lower level they could fine us up to $500 a day if we didn't become compliant. We were also told they could put a lein on our home. The county said that they were cracking down on illegal lower inclosures."

Rather than risk a daily fine the owners removed the bath and kitchen from the lower level, and made the bedroom into a garage. To remove anything one must obtain a demolition permit.

Another couple on the same street also received a letter and were told to remove their kitchen, bedroom and bath and make their lower level compliant.


FEMA Inspections

When you buy a home in the Keys chances are it has been constructed in a federally designated flood zone. FEMA will provide flood insurance for your home but requires that downstairs enclosures below a specified flood level only be structural in nature. The enclosure may be used for storage and/or a garage, but may not be used for living space. FEMA requires venting in the enclosure walls to allow water to flow in then out.

Homes built after 1974 must meet FEMA inspection standards. Newly built homes must meet inspection standards. For existing homes an inspection may be required at the time of flood insurance renewal. Starting in 2002, FEMA began inspecting downstairs enclosures in an effort to eliminate illegal inhabitable space. The FEMA Inspection is a one time inspection. From then on inspections will be done after title of the house has change hands and when the new owners requests a building permit.

Home built prior to 1975 are excluded from this requirement, but are subject to rules governing substantial and non-substantial improvements to pre-firm structures which may limit the reconstruction, rehabilitation or addition to the pre-firm structure.


Transfer of Ownership Inspections

Although it is called a transfer of ownership inspection, no downstairs enclosure inspection takes place as part of the process when a home is sold and title is transferred to new owners. But should the new owners require a building permit to make any changes, Monroe County will require a downstairs enclosure inspection before issuing a permit.


Double Sewage Fee

Interestingly, people with older homes with permitted downstairs quarters (such as a kitchen) have been told they must pay twice the special wastewater assessment fee. An owner on West Seaview Drive tore out their downstairs kitchen rather than pay another $4400 wastewater fee.



Flood Management

Flood Insurance Inspection Application
Inspection Transfer of Ownership Application

Habitable Space
How to obtain demolition permit

Researching a lower enclosure