The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved the creation of a “Less Than Fee” Program for people who own a home and the adjacent vacant lot in unincorporated Monroe County.
It is a willing-seller program that allows 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 being paid to retire the right to build a home on that lot in perpetuity.
Most properties are purchased “fee simple,” which means buying the lands with all rights and privileges. “Less than fee simple” ownership occurs when the owner of the property owns less than all the rights and privileges of the land. Selling the right to build a home on your vacant lot is a particular right that would deem your ownership of the vacant lot as “less than fee simple.”
The County’s Less Than Fee Program is not complicated. The County offers a price for the residential building right on the adjacent lot that is the current Market Land Value (MLV) as calculated by the Monroe Property Appraiser if you agree to a deed restriction permanently retiring the right to build a home on your vacant lot.
The County will prepare all documents necessary to finalize the transaction and will record them for you. The County also will pay for the costs of the title search and all recording fees.
The Willing Seller Process has four steps:
- Fill out the Less Than Fee application that is on the County website at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/lessthanfeeprogram and submit it. Or you can mail a printed version of the filled out application to the Monroe County Attorney’s Office, c/o Paul Witkiewitz, Assistant County Attorney, 1111 12th Street, Suite 408, Key West FL 33040 or email it to Witkiewitz-Paul@monroecounty-fl.gov.
- The County’s Planning Department will conduct a preliminary review of your property to determine its eligibility for the program.
- If eligible, the County will send you a standard contract to purchase your building rights of your vacant lot. Once you have returned the signed purchase contract, the Monroe County Land Authority will conduct a title search at the County’s expense.
- The County Attorney will review and approve all completed documents. All contracts are subject to final approval by the County Commission at a public meeting.
- Due to state and federal regulations, unincorporated Monroe County has a limited number of residential building permits that it can issue to those seeking to build a house on a vacant lot. The Less Than Fee Program was created with the purpose of retiring potential residential building rights on vacant land that could adversely affect the County’s environment, roads and hurricane evacuation.