Should New Homeowners “Harden” Their Florida Homes?
In early 2022, Florida State Representative Nick Diceglie (R-Indian Rocks Beach) filed what came to be known as the “home-hardening” bill. The proposed legislation offered homeowners a chance to “harden” their homes by offering grants to windproof dwellings in vulnerable areas. The legislation passed into law in May, but it has taken until November for the state to officially launch the program. While it appears poised to assist those living in vulnerable areas, it has potential drawbacks, and it may not be in everyone’s best interests to opt into the program.
Intended To Protect More Homes
Florida is the U.S. state which sees the most hurricanes (over 100 since 1850, according to data reported by CNN) and yet there are thousands, if not millions of homes in the state with little to no wind protection. The “home hardening” law has seen some modification since its initial filing, but its objective remains to try and provide homeowners in wind-prone areas with some protection. The “My Safe Florida Home” program will provide grants to homeowners located in “wind-borne debris” areas of the state, intended to be used for installing impact-proof windows and doors, as well as garage doors.
The intended goal of this program, aside from simply making more Florida homes windproof, is to push homeowners’ insurance rates down to a more manageable level. However, there are strings attached that may cause problems for homeowners’ finances, particularly brand-new homeowners who may have up-front closing costs to pay. If a homeowner cannot participate in this program due to poverty, they may miss out on lower insurance costs, which in turn may exacerbate the problem.
Positives & Negatives
In addition to the geographical restrictions, which bar many homeowners from accessing the “My Safe Florida Home” program to begin with, homeowners must also match half the grant amount. It can be argued that paying some up front is worth it for the eventual savings, but for many homeowners this still may simply not be possible. The original bill proposed a break on sales tax for the purchase of impact-resistant fixtures, but no specific decrease on insurance costs. This gives many homeowners pause because it effectively leaves the decision about insurance rates up to the insurance companies – who may place profit over people.
Many Florida homes already have impact-resistant fixtures, but if you have purchased a home that does not, the program may be a good fit for you – if you are able to afford to match half the grant amount. If you are still in the market for a new home in Florida, it may be a better idea to simply choose one built at a time when impact-resistant fixtures were required by Florida’s building codes. It may save you significant time and trouble.
Contact A Tampa Real Estate Attorney
While it remains to be seen whether the My Safe Florida Home program will succeed in helping low-income homeowners, those who are still in the market for their Florida home may have other options. If you have questions about impact-proofing your home or its fixtures, contacting a Tampa real estate attorney from the Seward Law Office may help get them answered. Attorney Alicia Seward has experience in real estate matters, and will work hard to help you with yours. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.