Upper Keys Real Estate Buying GuideĀ 


As you may be aware, the environment that makes the Keys so attractive to thousands of people is a fragile environment that requires considerable attention to protect its health and beauty. This fact has created a requirement for close management of all activities that have or might hurt the environment now or in the foreseeable future. The result is several "unique to the Keys" regulations and procedures concerning property ownership. They are provided for information purposes to broaden your understanding of what is invalid when purchasing property in the Keys.

Flood Insurance:
The buyer must determine the insurability of the property against flood damage by seeking the advice of a qualified insurance agent. Structures built before January 1, 1975 (pre-firm) 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. Structures built after January 1, 1975, that have enclosures below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) are typically not habitable. The existence of habitable space below the BFE may require demolition or an increase in insurance premiums. Buyers should contact the Monroe County Federal Emergency Management Coordinator or the City of Key West, City of Key Colony Beach, City of Layton, City of Islamorada, and City of Marathon to ascertain how these rules may impact on the property of interest.

Coastal Barrier Resources System Act (CBRS):
Certain properties in Monroe County may be affected by the Federal Coastal Barrier Resources System Act or proposed amendments. For information contact the United States Department of the Interior, the Monroe County Planning Department, or your legal representative. Property so designated is not eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance as well as other benefits.

Land Use Disclosure:
Due to the unpredictable and constantly changing status of the municipal, county, and state regulations for property developments in Monroe County each buyer should contact the appropriate local government department(s) to determine how the subject property may be affected by the Comprehensive Plan and the action necessary to ensure compliance with the plan. Additionally, a property may be affected by restrictive covenants in the form of deed restrictions, Homeowners Association Rules and restrictions, etc. Every Buyer needs to inquire about them. They also should inquire into state and local governmental zoning and land use regulations and restrictive covenants to determine whether the subject property complies with all state and local government laws, codes and ordinances, and restrictive covenants.
Monroe County Growth Management Division, 305-289-2500 Key Colony Beach Building & Zoning, 305-289-0247 City of Key West, 305-295-1000 City of Layton, 305-664-4667 City of Islamorada 305-664-2345 City of Marathon, 305-289-2501

Monroe County Year 2010 Comprehensive Plan:
The use of the property may be affected by the Land Use Plan, enacted September 15, 1986, revised 1/96 with subsequent revisions due every five (5) years hence or the availability of utilities and sewage disposal now or in the future. The transient rental of single-family residences in I.S. districts has been questioned by Monroe County and regulation by Local or State government may restrict such rentals in certain areas. Properly functioning septic tanks are the minimum permissible on-site sewage disposal systems (OSDS). An allocation ordinance exists that limits the number of building permits issued for residential dwelling units. Before signing a contract, seek legal counsel or consult with the Monroe County Planning and Zoning Departments. Monroe County is an area of State Critical Concern that heightens the degree of regulation by the State of Florida.

City of Key West Land Use:
The City of Key West has debated the definition of vacation rentals and the implementation of legislation to regulate, license, permit, or prohibit within the City limits of Key West. If a Buyer is considering renting their property they should discuss the status of this issue with the Key West Planning Dept. to understand its impacts on the Buyer's proposed use of the property.

Structures and uses that do not conform to uses provided for in the land use category that the property or use is located in are considered non-conforming. Such uses and structures are currently allowed to continue but they are not allowed to be expanded, enlarged, or continued if substantially destroyed (more than 50% of the value of the structure). Zoning together with the uses provided there which do not conform to the future Land Use Designations is considered non-conforming. Furthermore, non-conformities are jeopardized if abandoned. Buyers should seek legal counsel or consult with the Monroe County Planning and Zoning Department to determine whether a property is non-conforming today or maybe in the future.
Radon Gas:
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to persons who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in Florida. Additional information regarding radon and radon testing may be obtained from your county public health unit. Under 404.056(8), Florida Statutes.
Energy Efficiency Rating:
The Purchaser may have the Energy Efficiency Rating of the building determined at the buyer's expense by a person certified by the Department of Community Affairs.
Concrete Disclosure:
Various concrete structures in the Keys have been found to contain excessive levels of Chloride. This has caused a condition known as spalling which results from the rusting and expansion of steel rebar which reinforces the concrete.
Sewage Disclosure Form:
The City of Marathon and unincorporated Monroe County have taken steps to upgrade central sewer systems. For questions regarding the timing of the upgrades or estimated hook-up fees, contact:
Monroe County Health Department
3333 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL 33050
(305) 289-2450
City of Marathon
10045-55 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL 33050
(305) 743-0033

Lead Base Paint Warning:
For homes, apartments, or condominiums built before 1978. Every purchaser of any interest in residential real property on which a residential dwelling was built before 1978 is notified that such property may present exposure to lead from lead-based paint that may place young children at risk of developing lead poisoning. Lead poisoning in young children may produce permanent neurological damage, including learning disabilities, reduced intelligence quotient, behavioral problems, and impaired memory. Lead poisoning also poses a particular risk to pregnant women. The seller of any interest in residential real property is required to provide the buyer with any information on lead-based paint hazards from risk assessments or inspections in the seller's possession and notify the buyer of any known lead-based paint. A risk assessment or inspection for possible lead-based paint hazards is reconverted before purchase

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