Virgin Islands Law Blog

Virgin Islands Law Blog

U.S. Virgin Islands law & politics

What Rights Do Tenants Have After a Hurricane?

Posted in Hurricane

While much attention has been paid to the losses of homeowners and business owners after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the U.S. Virgin Islands (and rightfully so), there are thousands of renters who have suffered considerable losses, as well. There are many ways for property owners to seek various forms of financial assistance, but what rights do tenants have after a natural disaster?

Analyze the lease

To start, renters should be familiar with the terms outlined in their leases, as this is the primary governing document for the relationship between any tenant and landlord. There is no legal obligation for a landlord to help tenants recover from natural disasters, but there can be incentives for them to do so. The lease could include language that specifies what would happen in a post-disaster situation.

Insurance companies often require landlords to ensure that their properties have a certain level of storm protection. The steps landlords take to protect their properties, in turn, can protect their tenants. But if the property becomes uninhabitable due to storm damage, the lease agreement does not end. For the lease to be formally terminated, one of the parties must act to bring it to an end.

Therefore, if your building is uninhabitable after a disaster, the landlord must still provide official notice before terminating the lease agreement.

Steps you can take

You have the right to seek a reduction in rent that is proportional to the amount of damage in your unit. If your property is completely unlivable, you can move out. But in either situation, you must send an official certified letter to your landlord informing them of your actions. This is the only way you can protect yourself from any retaliation for non-payment of rent.

If you had renter’s insurance, get in touch with your insurance company as soon as possible. If your loss is covered under your insurance policy, you may request advance payments to cover your losses, at least in part. If you do not have renter’s insurance, find out if your landlord had insurance that might cover your unit and belongings.

If no insurance policy exists that would cover your losses, you might be able to get relief from The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the Individual and Household Program (IHP). This enables you to replace necessary personal items such as clothing, furnishings, appliances and other household items.

If your property is considered irreparable, your landlord could have the right to terminate your lease. To do so, the landlord must file an eviction action in court and have a judge enter a final eviction judgment. Finally, you are entitled to getting back all or part of your security deposit in accordance with your lease agreement.

For more information on your rights as a tenant while recovering from a hurricane or another natural disaster, meet with a skilled real attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

J. Nash Davis is an associate in the Real Estate and Financial Services and the Corporate, Tax & Estate Planning Practice Groups of BoltNagi PC, a full service business law firm on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim After Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Posted in Hurricane, Insurance

Hurricanes Irma and Maria have caused massive amounts of property damage throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. Tens of thousands of people are now in the process of filing homeowners’ insurance claims to recoup all or some of their losses.

Unfortunately, while most homeowners’ and renters’ insurance claims do cover damage caused by wind and other disasters, they typically do not cover groundwater flooding, which requires an additional policy from a private insurance company or through the National Flood Insurance program. The assistance a person can get through FEMA is also often not enough to cover all the losses sustained.

Below are some tips to help you through the process of filing an insurance claim to help you get a positive outcome:

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible: If you have been impacted by the disaster, do not wait to make your claim. Insurers often visit the most severely damaged areas first, but you can ask your provider when you can expect to hear from an adjuster. There could be backups due to the sheer amount of damage the region has sustained, so you should not expect to hear back immediately. But if you keep in constant communication with your insurance provider, you can help expedite the process.

  • Thoroughly document all your losses: Take as many pictures and videos as possible of the damage to your home and property. You should also make a complete list of all damaged personal items. Try to include the date of purchase of those items, the approximate value of them and, if you have them, receipts for the purchases.

  • Keep records of your spending: As you wait for your insurance provider to respond to your claim application, you may wish to make some temporary repairs to make your home livable again. Keep receipts and records of everything you spend to make those repairs, along with receipts for hotels, meals and other expenses incurred due to your inability to return to your home in the short term. You may get reimbursed for these expenses through your claim.

  • Do not discard items without checking with your provider: Your insurance adjuster may wish to see these damaged items in person if a photograph does not provide enough visual context of the damage. Thus, make sure you have written permission from your adjuster before discarding any your damaged items.

  • Keep a thorough claim log: Have a set of notes that has contact information for everyone you speak to about your claim. Always make a note of the date and time of conversations about your claim and the issues you discussed.

Time is of the essence when it comes to filing an insurance claim after a natural disaster. Remember these tips as you work through the process in the wake of our recent hurricanes.

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi, a widely respected and well-established business and corporate law firm serving individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands and is assisting in the Territory’s recovery as Chair of the Advisory Board for The Salvation Army and facilitating Disaster Legal Services.

SBA Loans Help Small Businesses

Posted in Business

The people of the U.S. Virgin Islands continue to rebuild after the massive destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria over the past month. Many are still in need of financial assistance to recoup the losses they have suffered and make necessary repairs to their properties.

The large amounts of flooding and damage can be especially disastrous for small businesses in the territory, which often operate on razor-thin margins as it is. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), approximately 40 percent of small businesses fail after a natural disaster simply because the costs of recovery are too great. The costs become even more prohibitive if a business does not have a separate flood insurance policy.

How do SBA loans work?

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a variety of physical disaster loan options, along with some economic damage loans, available for small businesses. Both of these types of loans have caps of $2 million to repair or replace machinery, equipment, inventory, real estate and other business assets. The program already has been quite active due to the destruction of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and it’s now an option being used by many people throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands and other territories in the region.

These loans can also be used by both homeowners and small business owners. Individual homeowners and renters can borrow up to $40,000 to replace damages to personal property and up to $200,000 to repair or replace damages to their primary residence. Personal property, for these purposes, is anything not considered real estate or a physical part of the actual structure of a residence. Loans may not be used to replace irreplaceable and extraordinarily expensive items, such as collections, antiques, recreational vehicles, boats and fashion items.

To qualify for the program, home and business owners must have sustained physical damage to their properties and be in an area where a disaster has been officially declared by the federal government.

All recipients must pay back SBA loans, although they usually come with low interest rates. The agency will only approve loans to applicants who have demonstrated a reasonable ability to repay the loan over time. The terms of each loan are established based on the borrower’s ability to repay.

Federal law gives the SBA some powerful tools to make these loans as affordable as possible to home and business owners, including low/fixed interest rates, long-term loans (of up to 30 years) and refinancing of existing real estate liens, in some circumstances. There are no upfront fees or early payment penalties for SBA loans.

For more information about obtaining a disaster loan from the SBA, work with an experienced attorney serving the U.S. Virgin Islands. Together, we will continue to recover from the enormous storms that have hit our region.

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi, a widely respected and well-established business and corporate law firm serving individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands and is assisting in the Territory’s recovery as Chair of the Advisory Board for The Salvation Army and facilitating Disaster Legal Services.

What to Know About Applying for FEMA Assistance in the Wake of Hurricane Maria

Posted in Hurricane, Insurance

In the weeks after Hurricane Maria hit, people throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands are seeking whatever assistance they can to help rebuild their homes and their lives. One of the options available is to apply for relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Assistance is available for those who have suffered in a federally declared natural disaster, including Maria.

Below is an overview of what you need to know about applying for FEMA assistance:

The application process

There are several methods to apply for FEMA assistance, the easiest of which are to apply online or via telephone. To apply online, visit www.disasterassistance.gov. If you are having difficulty applying online for any reason, you may also call 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7285) or you may apply locally at the Omar Brown Fire Station or the Bordeaux Farmer’s Market for relief during standard hours of operation, which run from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST, six days a week. After you have filed your application, you may check its status any time at disasterassistance.gov, regardless of the method you used to apply.

You have 60 days from the date of a declaration of disaster for Individual Assistance to apply for relief. Note that if you are eligible for an Individual Assistance grant, you do not have to pay back the money. There is also no income threshold for Individual Assistance grants, but some people may be referred to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for a low-interest loan to aid in their recovery. SBA loans must be repaid.

Documents you will need to apply

There are certain documents and materials you will need to complete your application, whether you do it online or over the phone. These include the following:

  • Social Security number

  • Current mailing address and telephone number

  • Address of the location at which the damage occurred

  • Your insurance information, including policy number and coverages

  • Your total household annual income

  • A routing and account number for your checking or savings account, which allows FEMA to directly deposit disaster assistance funds into your account

  • A comprehensive description of all the damage and losses the disaster caused

Additional resources

The FEMA website has an Individual Disaster Assistance page with many other useful resources that will guide you through your relief application This includes information on the following:

  • The types of assistance FEMA provides to individuals and families

  • What happens during a home inspection

  • What happens if you have insurance

  • What happens after a home inspection

  • How you can get a copy of your application or case file

  • How you can appeal a FEMA decision regarding your assistance

Keep these tips in mind as you seek the assistance you need after Hurricane Maria. These programs and others can give you much-needed help as you work to rebuild your life.

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi, a widely respected and well-established business and corporate law firm serving individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands and is assisting in the Territory’s recovery as Chair of the Advisory Board for The Salvation Army and facilitating Disaster Legal Services.

Options for US Virgin Islands Property Owners Facing Foreclosure After Hurricane Destruction

Posted in Hurricane

After a natural disaster like Hurricanes Irma and Maria, many homeowners and business property owners may face significant financial hardships, manifested in an inability to make mortgage payments. Fortunately, there are certain foreclosure protections available for property owners in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The following is an overview of some of the options available for property owners in the wake of these incredibly destructive storms.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers a 90-day moratorium on any foreclosures of FHA-insured mortgages after natural disasters. This moratorium applies under the following conditions:

  • The property is within the boundaries of a presidentially declared disaster area
  • The property was directly affected by that disaster

The time period for this moratorium can be extended if the disaster is especially severe or affected a large area. If your property was not damaged by the disaster, but the storm did have a financial impact, you could still qualify for this moratorium if you can prove this negative impact.

Your loan servicer can provide you with more information and tell you if your loan is insured by the FHA.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer a suspension of foreclosure sales within the 90 days following a natural disaster if the property is located in an area that has been federally designated as a disaster zone. This, of course, only applies to loans that Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac own.

Veteran’s Affairs (VA) loans

The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs encourages all holders and servicers of loans to establish 90-day moratoriums on initiating new foreclosures after disasters and help all individuals affected by these disasters by offering loan modifications or forbearance.

Other types of relief

Many individual U.S. Virgin Islands mortgage lenders and servicers provide other forms of relief from foreclosure by being more flexible in disaster situations. Some common examples of relief include:

  • Loan modifications (usually 90 days upon application)
  • A temporary reduction or suspension of payments
  • A waiver of late payments
  • Suspension of reporting instances of delinquency to credit bureaus

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also offers financial assistance to any individuals or families whose property has been destroyed or severely damage as a result of a federally declared disaster. This financial assistance can help people make mortgage payments or necessary repairs.

For more information on the wide variety of options available to you to get financial relief and avoid foreclosure after the hurricanes, consult a trusted U.S. Virgin Islands attorney today. It’s our mission to help our clients through these difficult times for our community.

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi, a widely respected and well-established business and corporate law firm serving individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Legal Tips for Contractors

Posted in Hurricane

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands are doing what they can to band together and rebuild. The recovery of such staggering natural disasters is never easy—neither logistically nor legally.

Both property owners and the contractors they hire must carefully protect their legal rights and ensure they avoid potentially damaging relationships. Disaster recoveries are desperate times, and unless both property owners and contractors are careful, they could find that others take advantage of their kindness and vulnerability.

Below are some legal tips for contractors and property owners alike during the hurricane recovery efforts.

Advice for contractors, subcontractors and suppliers

The people who are actually performing the recovery work need to ensure they are protected. Much of this assurance needs to take place before a disaster actually occurs. All contractors, subcontractors and suppliers should know what the lien rights are in the territory if they want to ensure they can secure payment for their work.

Matters can get difficult when out-of-territory contractors come in to provide their services. A contractor from Florida, for example, might have different rules in its home state than one based in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition, when dealing with recovery work, contractors and suppliers are likely to be receiving at least some, if not all, of their payment from insurance providers. Delays in insurance checks can cause some major financial problems for contractors. All parties to an agreement should understand that it might become necessary for the contractor to preserve and secure its right to payment.

Tips for property owners

After major storms, disaster zones tend to be flooded by contractors and suppliers looking for work. In many cases, this is extremely beneficial for both parties, as contractors get the work and the people who need it have resources readily available. However, the downside is that there are potentially fraudulent parties looking to take advantage of desperate people. There have been plenty of instances in recent disaster recovery situations, such as after Hurricane Sandy, in which contractors abused homeowners and either took money for work not completed or engaged in poor workmanship.

It’s important to stay in constant communication with contractors you hire at any time—and especially in disaster scenarios. You should, for example, have contractors list every party working on the project, a description of each party’s duties on the job site and any other information that will help you ensure responsibility on the part of the contractor.

Homeowners should also add conditional lien waivers to their payments. In doing so, a property owner asks the main contractor and any subs and suppliers to waive the right to file a lien.

To learn more about how to legally protect yourself as a contractor or property owner when it comes to disaster recovery efforts, speak with an experienced U.S. Virgin Islands business and contracts attorney.

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi, a widely respected and well-established business and corporate law firm serving individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Legal Tips for Contractors, Property Owners During Hurricane Recovery Efforts

Posted in Hurricane

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands are doing what they can to band together and rebuild. The recovery of such staggering natural disasters is never easy—neither logistically nor legally.

Both property owners and the contractors they hire must carefully protect their legal rights and ensure they avoid potentially damaging relationships. Disaster recoveries are desperate times, and unless both property owners and contractors are careful, they could find that others take advantage of their kindness and vulnerability.

Below are some legal tips for contractors and property owners alike during the hurricane recovery efforts.

Advice for contractors, subcontractors and suppliers

The people who are actually performing the recovery work need to ensure they are protected. Much of this assurance needs to take place before a disaster actually occurs. All contractors, subcontractors and suppliers should know what the lien rights are in the territory if they want to ensure they can secure payment for their work.

Matters can get difficult when out-of-territory contractors come in to provide their services. A contractor from Florida, for example, might have different rules in its home state than one based in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition, when dealing with recovery work, contractors and suppliers are likely to be receiving at least some, if not all, of their payment from insurance providers. Delays in insurance checks can cause some major financial problems for contractors. All parties to an agreement should understand that it might become necessary for the contractor to preserve and secure its right to payment.

Tips for property owners

After major storms, disaster zones tend to be flooded by contractors and suppliers looking for work. In many cases, this is extremely beneficial for both parties, as contractors get the work and the people who need it have resources readily available. However, the downside is that there are potentially fraudulent parties looking to take advantage of desperate people. There have been plenty of instances in recent disaster recovery situations, such as after Hurricane Sandy, in which contractors abused homeowners and either took money for work not completed or engaged in poor workmanship.

It’s important to stay in constant communication with contractors you hire at any time—and especially in disaster scenarios. You should, for example, have contractors list every party working on the project, a description of each party’s duties on the job site and any other information that will help you ensure responsibility on the part of the contractor.

Homeowners should also add conditional lien waivers to their payments. In doing so, a property owner asks the main contractor and any subs and suppliers to waive the right to file a lien.

To learn more about how to legally protect yourself as a contractor or property owner when it comes to disaster recovery efforts, speak with an experienced U.S. Virgin Islands business and contracts attorney.

Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi, a widely respected and well-established business and corporate law firm serving individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Tips for Planning a Smooth Business Succession

Posted in Business

You have likely spent many years building your business. It’s only sensible that you put plenty of effort into ensuring it lasts long after you are retired or have passed away.

Below are a few tips to help you create a smooth and successful plan of succession for your business:

  • Begin planning early: You might consider planning an exit strategy with your business plan. This means that from the very outset of your business operations, you will have a general idea of how you wish to pass down your business interests. You will have plenty of opportunities to adjust these exit plans over time as the circumstances of your business ownership and your personal life change, but it’s good to begin thinking about succession early in the life of your business.
  • Plan your training: Put together a cohesive plan for educating and training the next generation of your family to help them learn how to responsibly and competently run your business. You should have regular meetings with your family members and other heirs to go over all of your business plans and finances.
  • Have clear roles determined ahead of time: To avoid any potential hard feelings or confusion after you leave the business, make sure you have already established clear roles ahead of time for the people who will take control of your company. You do not want anyone to be surprised or disappointed when the time comes to hand over the reins to your business.
  • Encourage constant open communication: An open and ongoing discussion between you and your children can help you set realistic expectations for the future of the business. Having formal processes in place will help ensure this communication occurs with regularity and is clearly separate from your personal lives.
  • Work with a trusted business advisor: Seek the assistance of a business consultant or attorney who has previously worked with family-run companies and who can assist you with your succession planning and transition. This outside expertise can be extremely helpful and prevent you from making potentially damaging decisions for your company.
  • Address conflicts before they arise: If you have a thorough and clear business plan that addresses the business transition and who will take on which roles, you should not have a problem with conflicts. However, you should also consider if there are any existing feuds among family members that could complicate a future transition.

Having a clear and comprehensive succession plan is a major part of ensuring your business will last beyond your tenure and well into the future. For further guidance on succession planning and working on your business plan, speak with a trusted corporate planning attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Steven K. Hardy has significant experience in representing clients in many matters concerning small business formation, structuring and planning. He is a member of the Virgin Islands Bar Association and the State Bar of Georgia, and is active with the American Bar Association and the ABA Young Lawyers Division.

Frequently Asked Questions on Leave and Time Off Laws

Posted in Labor & Employment

Business owners in the U.S. Virgin Islands and throughout the United States must have a thorough understanding of wage and time laws and regulations. Below are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive on this issue.

Do I have to provide family and medical leave as a small business owner?

The answer to this question depends on the size of your business. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave in some circumstances, and up to 26 weeks of leave to care for family members injured in military service. However, these rules only apply to companies with more than 50 employees who work within a 75-mile radius. If your company does not meet these conditions, you do not have to provide FMLA leave.

How much notice am I allowed to require of employees seeking FMLA leave?

This depends on the reason the employee is seeking leave. If employees know far in advance of the reason for their leave, a minimum of 30 days’ notice is required. An example of this type of case would be a surgery scheduled well in advance.

However, if the employee’s reason for seeking leave is an emergency, the employee only needs to provide as much notice as is reasonably practical given the circumstances.

Am I required to allow paternity leave to male employees?

If your business is subject to the rules of the FMLA and the employee is eligible to take leave, you must allow up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a newborn child. This leave is unpaid and must be taken within the first year of the birth or adoption of the child.

Typically, employers don’t have to provide paid leave to either parent. However, if you offer paid leave to mothers, you must offer the same benefit to fathers. Otherwise, you could face a discrimination lawsuit. To that end, the policy for companies that offer paid leave is to provide what’s called “parental leave,” rather than maternity or paternity leave.

Am I required to give employees time off to fulfill certain civic duties?

A significant number of states and territories require employers to provide several hours of paid leave to allow employees to vote. No matter what, you cannot punish employees for taking time off to vote.

You do not have to pay employees for time taken off for jury duty, but again, you may not fire, demote or discipline any employee for being called in to jury duty. If you do, the employee could sue you for lost wages.

Finally, federal law requires employers to allow employees to take a maximum of five years off for military service and to take leave to fulfill various military duties.

For more information and guidance on your responsibilities as an employer regarding wages and leave, meet with a skilled U.S. Virgin Islands labor law attorney.

Ravinder S. Nagi is a shareholder and the Assistant Managing Attorney for BoltNagi. He is the chair of BoltNagi’s Litigation Department and the Labor and Employment Practice Group. He has represented numerous private and public companies in complex labor and employment cases of all types.

SBA Disaster Loan Program: Not Just for Businesses

Posted in Hurricane

Recent Category 5 storms Irma and Maria ripped through the U.S. Virgin Islands delivering a catastrophic one-two punch unlike the Territory has ever experienced, leaving the islands and its residents decimated and in disarray.  Many of those affected have lost everything and will be facing a grueling recovery process as they attempt to begin again.  Fortunately, various forms of assistance are available to aid in the recovery process and this article will discuss some of the main aspects of the disaster relief loan program available to businesses and individuals through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).       

Established in 1953 by President Eisenhower with the signing of the Small Business Act, the SBA is a federal government agency that provides financial support to entrepreneurs, small businesses and individuals.  The mission of the SBA is “to maintain and strengthen the nation’s economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters.”

About SBA Disaster Loans

SBA disaster relief loans are the primary source of federal long-term disaster recovery funds for disaster damage not fully covered by insurance or other compensation.  A common misconception about SBA disaster loans is that they are only available to “small” businesses; however, SBA disaster loans provide low-interest, long-term loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters to repair or replace uninsured and/or underinsured disaster damaged property.  Obtaining an SBA disaster loan can be an affordable way for both individuals and businesses to recover from declared disasters.

The following are a few highlights of SBA disaster loans:

  • Eligible homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for home repair or replacement of their primary residences. 
  • Eligible homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property.
  • Businesses of all sizes can qualify for up to $2 million in low-interest loans to help cover physical damage.
  • Businesses suffering economic injury (inability to pay most ordinary and necessary financial obligations) that cannot be met as a result of the disaster can apply for up to $2 million.
  • Additional funds may be available to cover loss mitigation costs (improvements that will protect property against future damage).
  • Interest rates can be as low as 1.875% for homeowners and renters, 4% for businesses and 2.625% for private nonprofit organizations, with repayment terms up to 30 years.

Depending on the loan type, SBA disaster loan proceeds can be utilized for a variety of costs including: 

  • Repair or replacement of real property (e.g. buildings, primary residences).
  • Repair or replacement of personal property (e.g. vehicles, furniture, equipment, inventory).
  • Economic injury to businesses.
  • Mortgage refinancing where:
    • Mortgage is evidenced by a recorded lien;
    • The applicant does not have available credit elsewhere;
    • The applicant has suffered substantial uncompensated disaster damage  (40% or more of the value of the property); and
    • The applicant intends to repair the damage
  • Costs to relocate

It is also worth noting that applicants can apply before receiving any insurance proceeds.  SBA can provide loans for repairs while applicants wait for their insurance to pay; however, once insurance pays, loan recipients are generally required to repay their SBA disaster loan that covered the repair or replacement costs.

Application Process    

SBA relief loan applicants generally have 60 days after the declared disaster to apply.  The SBA may extend this date under certain circumstances.  It is recommended, however, that applicants begin the process as early as possible. 

The first step is to apply to FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or www.disastrassistance.gov.  In many instances FEMA will then direct applicants to apply for an SBA disaster loan, failure of which to do may result in denial of FEMA assistance later. 

The SBA disaster loan application can be summarized in the following three-step process:

  1. Apply for the Loan
  1. Property Verified and Loan Processing Decision Made
  • SBA reviews the applicants credit before conducting an onsite inspection of the damages caused by the disaster.
  • An SBA verifier inspects the applicant’s disaster damaged property to estimate the total physical losses.
  • A loan officer will determine the full eligibility during processing, taking into consideration any insurance or other recoveries.  The insurance recovery does not have to be final for SBA to approve the loan.  A loan officer works with the applicant to obtain all the information needed to reach a final loan determination.  SBA’s goal is to arrive at a decision on the application within two to three weeks.  A loan officer will contact the applicant to discuss the loan recommendation and explain the next step in the process.  In addition to speaking with the loan officer all loan decisions are communicated in writing.
  1. Loan Closed and Funds Disbursed
  • SBA will prepare and send Loan Closing Documents for the borrower’s signature.  Once the executed Loan Closing Documents are received, an initial disbursement may be made within five days.
  • A case manager will be assigned to work with the borrower through the disbursement process and schedule subsequent disbursements until the loan is fully disbursed.  The loan may be adjusted after closing due to changing circumstances, such as increasing the loan for unexpected repair costs or reducing the loan due to additional insurance proceeds.

Contacts for Help and Additional Resources

Those affected who are in need of assistance should also consider reaching out to their local government.  State, territorial and local governments are often better equipped to handle emergency relief situations after a disaster, as they are intended to be the first responders. 

Applicants and borrowers with questions, in need of an application or would like to request the status of their loan application should contact the following:

SBA

Customer Service: 1-800-659-2955

Website: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

Email: disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

FEMA

Customer Service: 1-800-621-FEMA 93362)

Website: www.disasterassistance.gov

J. Nash Davis is an Associate Attorney with BoltNagi, an established and respected law firm assisting a wide range of individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.