Fire Victim Trust

Frequently Asked Questions


Real Property Claims


56. What is a Real Property Claim?

Real Property Claims include claims for damage to structures on residential or commercial real property, landscaping, forestry, and other real property improvements (e.g, hardscape, fencing, retaining walls, pools, and solar panels) as a result of the Fires.


57. Can I make a claim if I am a co-owner of the Real Property?

Yes, a co-owner of real property can make a claim for loss/damage to real property and should provide official ownership documentation to support ownership percentage. You should also provide a list of the other co-owners.


58. Can multiple owners submit separate claims for a single loss location?

Yes, multiple owners can file separate claims for losses based on the same loss location if they provide ownership percentages or for certain categories such as personal property, so long as the losses do not overlap.


59. If I was not the title owner of the property at the time of the Fire, can I still make a claim for Real Property damage?

You can submit a claim if, since the Fire, you have received an assignment of the right to make a claim related to the damage of the property.


60. What is considered Residential Property?

Residential Property means real property consisting of a dwelling that contains no more than four residential units, as well as individually owned units in a residential stock cooperative, condominium, or planned unit development and the Claimant occupies the dwelling or one of its units as their residence. This includes:

 

  • Single Family Homes
  • Multi-Family Homes
  • Manufactured Homes
  • Mobile Homes
  • Apartments
  • Condominiums


61. Can I make a claim for non-habitable structures located on my Residential Property?

Yes, you can claim any non-habitable structures located on your residential property, other than your primary residence, that were damaged by the Fire by providing a description of the damaged structure and the cost of repair or rebuild. Examples of such structures include: detached garages, storage buildings, barns, greenhouses, and workshops.


62. What is considered Commercial Property?

All real property, except for Residential Property or vacant land is considered Commercial Property.

 

This includes:

 

  • Agricultural Property
  • Apartment/ Condo Buildings
  • Commercial Office Buildings
  • Educational/ School Facilities
  • Healthcare/ Medical Facilities
  • Hospitality/Lodging
  • Industrial Property
  • Mobile Home Parks
  • Parking Structures/ Facilities
  • Public/ Community Facilities
  • Retail Property
  • Transportation/ Airplane related properties


63. What types of documents can I provide to support my Real Property Claim?

  • Verification of ownership;
  • Appraisals;
  • Tax records;
  • Purchase records;
  • Mortgage or loan documentation showing the pre-Fire condition or value of the property;
  • Pre-Fire and post-Fire photos or videos of the structures (interior or exterior) or other damaged areas of the property;
  • Architectural or engineering drawings;
  • Permits;
  • Contractor rebuild or repair estimates or invoices;
  • Arborist reports, timber surveys, or documents relating to landscaping;
  • Closing statement if the property has been sold; and
  • Other supporting documents within the Claimant’s possession.


64. What documents are acceptable to verify my ownership of real property?

The Trust will accept official ownership documentation, such as titles, deeds, wills, etc.


65. Can I include landscaping improvements made to my real property in my claim?

Yes, you can include landscaping improvements in your Real Property Claim by providing a description of the type and quantity of landscaping improvements that were damaged or destroyed. Landscaping is defined as any changes made to the property that are intended to improve its visual appearance (e.g., shrubs, flower beds, mulched areas, artificial ponds, etc.).


66. Can I include the trees and other naturally growing vegetation located on my real property in my claim?

Yes, trees, bushes and other naturally growing vegetation that is not actively landscaped fall under the category of Forestry and can be included in your claim if they are located on your property.


67. What documents can I provide to support my claim for loss and/or damages relating to landscaping improvements and forestry?

  • Maps
  • Photos
  • Expert Reports


68. If I am a co-owner of the real property, what documents or information can I provide to prove percentage of ownership?

You can provide official ownership documentation, such as titles, deeds, wills, or other ownership documents to prove your ownership percentage.


69. What if the owner of the real property is deceased?

The executor of the deceased owner's estate may submit a claim on behalf of the deceased owner.


70. What if the owner of the real property is a Trust?

An authorized individual may submit a claim on behalf of a Trust.


71. What if the real property was transferred to a minor under the California Uniform Transfers to Minors Act?

The Claimant must submit a driver's license or birth certificate confirming that he or she has reached the age of majority at the time of submitting the claim.


72. What information or details should I include in my description of the damaged real property?

To the best of your ability, describe in detail:

 

  • The type of real property that was lost or damaged and its condition before the Fire;
  • The physical damage to the real property resulting from the Fire; and
  • The location(s) of the loss/ damage.


73. How will the Trust calculate damages in connection with my Real Property Claim?

Real property damages will be measured in one of two ways:

 

  • The loss in fair market value to the property (“Diminution in Value”); or
  • The reasonable costs to rebuild or repair the property (“Cost of Repair”).

 

Whether Diminution in Value or Cost of Repair is awarded will depend on the facts of each claim.


74. How will Diminution in Value be calculated?

The Trust will calculate Diminution in Value by subtracting the Fair Market Value of the property immediately after the Fire from the Fair Market Value of the property immediately before the Fire.


75. What is meant by Fair Market Value?

Fair Market Value is the highest price estimated in terms of money which the property would bring if exposed for sale in the open market.


76. What information or documentation should I provide to evidence a property’s Fair Market Value?

You may provide contemporaneous appraisals, sales comparisons from immediately prior to the Fire, or expert reports.


77. How will the Cost to Repair or Replace be determined?

The reasonable costs to rebuild or repair the property will be determined based on:

 

  • the use of the structure(s) and other improvement(s);
  • the extent of damage to the structure(s) (e.g., burn damage versus smoke and soot damage);
  • the square footage of structure(s);
  • the geographic location of the property;
  • the size of the vegetation on the property immediately before the Fire;
  • the extent of damage to vegetation;
  • the type of vegetation damaged; and
  • the Fair Market Value of the property immediately before the Fire.

 

In addition, you may claim the value of trees lost.


78. Can I make a claim for Consequential Damages caused by the destruction of or damage to my real property?

Yes, you may make a claim for other reasonably foreseeable economic losses directly caused by the destruction of or damage to real property.


79. Can I make a claim for economic losses suffered by my business and caused by the destruction of or damage to my Commercial Property?

Yes, you may make a claim for economic losses suffered by a business as a result of the Fires, including loss of business property or inventory used to conduct business and lost profits or revenue, and can do so by making a Business Loss Claim.


80. If I operated my business out of my Residential Property, can I make a claim for economic losses suffered by my business as a result of the destruction of or damage to my Residential Property?

Yes, you may make a claim for economic losses suffered by a business as a result of the Fires, including loss of business property or inventory used to conduct business and lost profits or revenue, and can do so by making a Business Loss Claim.


81. Can I make a claim for Loss of Rental Income if I rented out all or a portion of my Residential Property?

You must assert loss of rental income from damaged or destroyed real property as a Business Loss Claim.


82. What happens if I have sold the property instead of rebuilding?

If you have sold the property that forms the basis of your claim prior to rebuilding, the Trust will determine your damage award based on Diminution of Value.


83. Will the Trust provide a value for rebuild damages before a Claimant submits a Real Property Claim?

No, the Trust will not provide a value for rebuild damage before a Claimant submits a claim. If a Claimant does not provide information regarding rebuild damages when filing a claim, the Trust will provide an estimated amount based on publicly available data as part of the initial award notice. Claimants will have the ability to respond and provide additional information.


84. Will the Trust explain the basis of each award for real property?

Yes, the Trust will provide the numerical inputs used to determine damages such as structures identified, square footage, market value, and cost of rebuild for each submitted Real Property Claim.


85. What restoration damages will the Trust include in its calculation of the rebuild value for Real Property Claims?

The Trust will include damages for structures and property based on publicly available data. The Trust may also include damages for the average cost of fencing, decking, and other items based on documents provided by Claimants and input from experts.


86. How will the Trust apply the “Kelly ratio” to restoration damages for Real Property Claims?

The Trust will review each claim on a case-by-case basis and does not expect to apply any arbitrary cap on claims.


87. Will the Trust apply caps to damages in its evaluation of awards?

The Trust will review each claim on a case-by-case basis and does not expect to apply any arbitrary cap on claims.


88. How will the Trust compensate claims for minor damage to real or personal property?

If the minor damage was not fully covered by insurance or was uninsured, the Trust will evaluate the cost of repair for that minor damage.


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