How to document home ownership and occupancy for FEMA

Staff Report


After it was announced that Bell County qualified for federal disaster assistance for its residents, FEMA opened up filing by Bell County residents.

As part of the disaster assistance process, FEMA must determine ownership and occupancy of damaged primary residences.

There are several ways Texans who were affected by the storms and tornadoes that began April 26 can provide this information.

Homeowners may provide official documentation such as:

  • The original deed or deed of trust to the property
  • A mortgage statement or escrow analysis
  • Property tax receipt or property tax bill
  • Manufactured home certificate or title
  • Property insurance documentation


In addition, FEMA accepts a public official’s letter or receipts for major repairs or improvements.

The public official’s statement (e.g., police chief, mayor, postmaster) must include the name of the applicant, the address of the disaster-damaged residence, the period of occupation and the name and telephone number of the official providing the verification.

Texans with mobile homes or travel trailers who do not have the traditional documentation of ownership may self-certify ownership as a last resort.

Homeowners with the same address from a previous disaster only need to verify ownership one time. FEMA has also expanded the date of eligible documents from three months to one year before the disaster.

Homeowners and renters must document that they occupied the dwelling at the time of the disaster. Applicants may provide official documentation, such as:

  • Utility bills, bank or credit card statements, phone bills, etc.
  • Employer’s statement
  • Written lease agreement
  • Rent receipts
  • Public official’s statement

FEMA will also accept motor vehicle registration, letters from local schools (public or private), federal or state benefit providers, social service organizations or court documents.

Applicants can also use a signed statement from a commercial or mobile home park owner, or self-certification for a mobile home or travel trailer as a last resort.

If Texans have successfully verified occupancy to FEMA from a previous disaster within a two-year period, they do not need to do it again.