Less Than Fee Program
Do you own a home and the adjacent vacant lot in unincorporated Monroe County?
If yes, the County Commission’s Less than Fee Program may be of interest to you.
In April 2020, the Board of County Commissioners placed the Less than Fee Program on hold due to the fiscal impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the county budget. On October 20, 2021, the Board of County Commissioners approved the resumption of the program. Interested individuals are welcome to submit an application to the program (see below). If you applied at any point in the past, you do not need to apply again. You can check the status of your application by contacting Cynthia Guerra by email at Guerra-Cynthia@monroecounty-fl.gov or by phone at 305-453-8756.
What is the "Less than Fee" (LTF) Program?
It is a willing seller program that would allow you to retain ownership of the adjacent, vacant lot and use it for legally allowed accessory uses like a pool, open yard, or garage in exchange for selling the right to build a home or any habitable space on that lot in perpetuity. Below is an example of accessory structures like a pool and shed that may be allowable on a vacant parcel after the County purchases the development right. Accessory structures must be permitted and comply with Land Use Regulations.
Why has the County created this Program?
Due to state and federal regulations, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners has a limited number of residential building permits that it can issue to those seeking to build a house on a vacant lot. In order to eliminate potential residential building rights on vacant land that would otherwise affect our environment, roads, and hurricane evacuation, the County Commission created this voluntary Less than Fee Program to retire building rights.
BOCC Resolution About the Program
Board of County Commissioners Eligibility Requirements
The County Commission has established eligibility requirements for purchases. They include:
- The lot must be located within an Improved Subdivision (IS), Improved Subdivision – Masonry (IS-M), or Urban Residential-Mobile Home (URM) Land Use (zoning) District;
- The lot must have at least one (1) buildable residential unit or Transfer of Development Right (TDR).
- The lot must be held in common ownership with an immediately adjacent parcel that contains a residential structure as its principal structure;
- The lot must be eligible to receive a building permit for construction of a new residential dwelling unit under the current Monroe County Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code, and not prohibited by deed restriction or other instrument or legal impairment from receiving such a building permit;
- The lot must be free of all code compliance liens and not the subject of a current code compliance case or other enforcement proceeding by the County or other regulatory agency; and,
- The lot must be owned by a seller who is willing to convey the building rights to the County under the terms and conditions of the program.
Board of County Commissioners Approved Program Priorities
The County Commission has established priorities for the Less Than Fee Program. The priorities are:
- Priority One - Otherwise eligible vacant lots with no accessory structures or uses on Big Pine Key and No Name Key, regardless of Tier designation, in the order of lowest Market Land Value (MLV) to highest MLV with an agreed upon purchase price of less than $100,000.
- Priority Two - Otherwise eligible vacant lots with accessory structures or uses on Big Pine Key and No Name Key, regardless of Tier designation, in the order of lowest MLV to the highest MLV with an agreed upon purchase price of less than $100,000.
- Priority Three - Otherwise eligible vacant lots with no accessory structures or uses outside of Big Pine Key and No Name Key, that are designated Tier III, in the order of lowest Market Land Value (MLV) to highest MLV with an agreed upon purchase price of less than $100,000
All otherwise eligible vacant lots will be processed after those described in the above priorities in the order of highest Tier designation to lowest Tier designation, with no accessory structures or uses and in the order of lowest MLV to highest MLV, with an agreed upon purchase price of less than $100,000.
The Program is Simple
If your parcel meets the program requirements, the County may make you an offer. The County’s offer price for the residential building right on the adjacent lot is the most current Certified Value - Market Land Value (MLV) as calculated by the Monroe Property Appraiser. Under the Florida Constitution, the Property Appraiser is independent of the County Commission and is elected by the voters of Monroe County.
The County offer will be 100% of the most current Certified Value - MLV, up to $99,999, provided that you agree to a deed restriction permanently retiring the right to build a home (dwelling unit) or any habitable space on your vacant lot. The program is completely voluntary for both parties and is subject to available funding.
The County will prepare all of the documents necessary to finalize the transaction and will record them for you.
The Willing Seller Process - Four Steps:
- Submit the “Less than Fee” application Opens a New Window. . Email Guerra-Cynthia@monroecounty-fl.gov or call 305-453-8756 if you require assistance with the online application.
- The County will conduct a review of your property to determine its eligibility for the program.
- If your property is eligible, the County will send you an agreement to purchase the building right from your lot. Once you have returned the signed agreement, the County will conduct a title search at the County’s expense. If you have a mortgage on the property, the County will require your mortgage company to sign a Joinder.
- Your agreement will be placed on a County Commission Agenda for consideration. All agreements are subject to final approval by the County Commission at a public meeting. At closing, the deed restriction (a Covenant of Unity of Title & Restriction on Future Development and/or Conveyances) will be recoded in the public records.
Who Pays for What?
- The County will pay for the costs of the title search and all recording fees.
- If you have a mortgage or other lien on the lot, you will need to gain your bank or lienholder’s consent. You may incur some expense in resolving these issues.
- If you choose to designate a representative (e.g., attorney, realtor, etc.) as your contact person, you will be responsible for paying your lawyer or agent. You are not required to designate a representative.
- The Seller must pay Documentary Tax Stamps based upon the price paid. This cost will be deducted from your final payment at closing.
You are not obligated to participate in this program.
Less Than Fee Program Application
Interested individuals are welcome to submit an application to the program. There is no cost to apply. We will contact you at the time we have determined we are able to move forward with your application, or when we have determined your application is not eligible. There is a waitlist of interested applicants and limited funding, so it may be some time before we contact you. If you applied at any point in the past, you do not need to apply again.
You can check the status of your application by contacting Cynthia Guerra by email at Guerra-Cynthia@monroecounty-fl.gov or by phone at 305-453-8756.
Use this link to apply for the Less than Fee Program:
- Covenant of Unity of Title & Restriction on Future Development and/or Conveyances Opens a New Window.
- BOCC Agreement for the Purchase of Less than Fee Interest in Lands Opens a New Window.
- Sample Joinder
Cynthia GuerraAcquisition Manager, VHBP Fair Housing CoordinatorPhone: 305-453-8756
1200 Truman Avenue
Key West, FL 33040
Phone: 305-295-5180Fax: 305-295-5181