HomeRenters InsuranceKokua Line: How are landlords paid for emergency housing?

Kokua Line: How are landlords paid for emergency housing?

Question: I understand that landlords who rent to eligible people displaced by the Maui fires may be eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency or state funds. How exactly does that work? Can you elaborate?

Answer: No, not at this point. Numerous landlords have asked this question, and by Wednesday the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. had updated the website for the Hawaiʻi Fire Relief Housing Program to emphasize that although government funding to pay a tenant’s rent may become available, it has not been finalized.

“As stated earlier, rent and other terms of occupancy are private contractual agreements between the owners and tenants. However, because landlords who rent to eligible persons displaced by the fires may be eligible for federal or state funds, they may request proof of identification and residency, and potential renters should anticipate being asked for proof of ID and residency. We stress again that funding programs are, at this point, only being discussed,” the website says.

This program does not require landlords to give displaced Maui residents free lodging. Displaced people may have money for temporary housing through their homeowners or renters insurance. Coverage D, which pays for loss of use of a dwelling due to a covered loss, such as fire, is standard in most homeowners insurance policies, according to industry websites.

“Loss of use coverage on home insurance policies typically offer 10% or 20% of your dwelling coverage,” according to progressive.com. So, for example, if a displaced Maui resident had $400,000 in dwelling coverage, their loss of use coverage would be $40,000 to $80,000.

“Loss of use coverage pays for additional living expenses you incur if your home is not suitable to live in due to a covered loss. It’s important to note that loss of use covers the excess of what you normally spend for certain things. For instance, let’s say your home is damaged by fire. You’re unable to use your kitchen to cook, so you’ve been eating your meals at a restaurant. Your tab at the restaurant was $600 for the week, but you normally spend $300 weekly for groceries. Your loss of use coverage will pay out the difference of $300,” the website says, explaining that examples of loss of use/additional living expenses include temporary housing (hotel or rental home), additional fuel costs, additional utilities, additional food expenses (groceries, restaurants, cooking supplies), storage units, boarding of pets, laundry, moving costs, public transportation fees and parking fees.

Renters insurance may provide a flat amount or a percentage of the person’s personal property limit, the website said.

This is all general information, of course, and displaced Maui residents should review their individual policies and contact their insurance company immediately, if they haven’t already. Insurance adjusters haven’t been allowed in the Lahaina disaster zone to check their customers’ burned homes — even when all who lived at a property are safely accounted for and no human remains are believed to be present — but an initial claim can be started based on information already publicly available. Displaced residents should keep receipts for all additional living expenses.

We emphasize all this because there’s been so much coverage about FEMA assistance and possible state aid, that some displaced, insured residents may be overlooking valuable coverage they can tap into right away, paying for temporary housing found through the Hawaiʻi Fire Relief Housing Program, on their own or by some other method.

As Kokua Line reported Tuesday (808ne.ws/3shYJez), the HFRHP serves as a referral service for people who need housing after being displaced by the Maui fires and property owners who are willing to provide it. Potential tenants and potential landlords can sign up at dbedt.hawaii.gov/hhfdc/. The housing list is expansive and regularly updated.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, HI 96813; call 808-529-4773; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

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