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.

House with adjacent vacant lot

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 and interested individuals are currently welcome to submit an application to the program (see below).  If you have already applied, 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 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.

House with adjacent vacant lot with example accessory structures

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 purchases.  They include: 

  • Priority shall be given to eligible lots located on Big Pine Key and No Name Key
  • Priority shall also be given to properties 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 current 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 MLV, up to $99,999, provided that you agree to a deed restriction permanently retiring the right to build a home (dwelling unit) 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:

  1. Submit the “Less than Fee” application.  Email Guerra-Cynthia@monroecounty-fl.gov or call 305-453-8756 if you require assistance with the online application.
  2. The County’s Planning Department will conduct a preliminary review of your property to determine its eligibility for the program.  
  3. 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.
  4. 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 currently welcome to submit an application to the program.  If you have already applied, 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:

Sample Documents

  1. Cynthia Guerra

    Acquisition Manager, VHBP Fair Housing Coordinator
    Phone: 305-453-8756

  2. Land Authority

    Physical Address
    1200 Truman Avenue
    Suite 207
    Key West, FL 33040

    Phone: 305-295-5180
    Fax: 305-295-5181