First we will start off with a disclaimer, because what we are about to describe is overly simplified without getting into the nitty gritty of things. The more detailed explanation about building can be found here. In the meantime, for those looking to build on land or hoping to park their RV or camper on it, or wonder why all those pieces of vacant land are being sold for next to nothing, buyer beware, this is the bare bones article to read!
Very simply put, residential land in the Florida Keys is currently either permitted, unpermitted, or waiting for a permit.
Working backwards, if in that very last category, the waiting part means that someone has applied for a building permit through either the ROGO (Rate of Growth Ordinance) or BPAS systems (Building Permit Allocation System). Both are a points system and applicants with the highest points get a permit. Want to know more? Click here!
If it is permitted, that means that there is and has been a permit approved and issued for a structure on that land. Land that has a permit, or a building right, is called ROGO exempt. That all means that you can tear down and rebuild using that existing building right.
If land is unpermitted, which you can usually find that classification on the Monroe County Property Appraisers website, then that land has no building right and cannot be built on. Over the last decades, most land owners went through the ROGO or BPAS systems to get a permit, but after July of 2023, that is going by the way of the dodo bird. Yes, extinction! No more land to build on in the Keys!
Occasionally building rights can be purchased on the open market for around $2-300,000 as of the time this is being written. There are strict rules about sender sites and receiver sites being compatible and area specific. The bottom line is that if a piece of land that you are looking at does not specifically say it is ROGO exempt, permit in hand, or permit about to be issued in the next quarter... You will not be able to build on it unless you purchase a permit (which we see less and less of).
You will see listings for land where the description very considerately gives you a permit number and the gorgeous plans for the beautiful home that can be built. THEY ARE MEANINGLESS. All applicants are issued a permit number to begin the points process. Plans must be submitted to be able to submit an application.
Let us give you two examples using some rough numbers about how dire this situation is with permits. Lets say the Upper Keys in Monroe County have 25 building permits left to be issued as part of the building moratorium here. Well, there are 92 people in line to get those permits. You do the math! Even better in Big Pine Key where there are only four permits left to be issued... But there are 24 people in line trying to get them!
The last thing to address for those looking to buy land is that officially, Monroe County DOES NOT ALLOW RV's or campers to be parked on vacant land in the Florida Keys unless that land is specifically zoned for RV's, which can only be found in RV parks. RV's may also be stored next to an existing structure.
The Florida Keys are an Area of State Critical Concern. Land cannot be cleared however one would like. There are very strict environmental rules with many native species protected under the Florida Statutes. Before building, vegetative and other studies are done to identify and protect those species, including any fauna.
So, did this bring up even more question?! Time to read on... or return to the Useful Information Page!
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