Single Family Land Trust Properties

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Single Family Land Trust?

A Single Family Land Trust (SFLT) is a way of separating the ownership of a piece of land and the building or house on that land. In a SFLT, the Pinellas County Housing Finance Authority (HFA) owns the land, and the homeowner owns the building. SFLT is a mechanism for lowering housing costs associated with land, insurance and property taxes. It gives moderate- to low-income residents the opportunity for homeownership, which otherwise may not be possible because of high housing costs.

How does a SFLT work?

A resident purchases a home at a low cost and retains the title of the home, and the HFA owns the land. The homeowner rents the land from the HFA for a nominal fee. The contract between the HFA and the homeowner is a 99-year lease that is renewable.

What are the provisions included in the ground lease?

These provisions are included in the SFLT lease agreement between the HFA and the homeowner (also called the lessee):

  • The leased premises are for residential use only.
  • The lessee must properly care for property, obey the law and create no nuisance.
  • The lessee must ensure that guests do not create a nuisance.
  • The lessee must live in the residence for a minimum of 10 months out of the 12-month calendar year.
  • The HFA has the right to inspect the premises, but only with proper notice unless there is an emergency.
  • The lessee has a right to peacefully enjoy the property without undue interference from the HFA.

Do I own the home?

Yes. You buy the home at a below-market price and retain the title to the building itself. The land under the home belongs to the HFA, which in turn leases the land to you at a nominal rate.

Can anyone purchase a home in a Community Land Trust?

No. Only moderate- to low-income families are eligible for SFLT homes. A potential homeowner seeking to purchase a home on a SFLT property cannot make more than 120 percent of the Area Median Income.

What is Area Median Income?

Area Median Income is determined by the average income of people residing within a certain area. The area is usually a city or county.

Who do I pay my mortgage to?

Homeowners need to qualify for a mortgage through a lender, like a bank or credit union. Homeowners must meet all the normal criteria for financing. You make mortgage payments to the lender who offers financing of the home.

Do I need insurance? What happens in the event of a natural disaster or unnatural disaster?

Yes, you need insurance. You will not be able to enter into a SFLT land lease agreement unless you have and show proof of insurance. The HFA is not responsible for any damage to the house as a result of natural or unnatural disasters, including fire, flooding, wind damage and sink holes.

Can the homeowner refinance their home (improvements)?

Yes, the homeowners must contact the HFA to discuss the terms of the refinance, not contacting the HFA prior to the refinance is a violation of the Ground Lease. The terms and conditions of the refinance must comply with the rules for a Permitted Mortgage as described in Article 8.02 of the Ground Lease signed during closing. All refinance proposed terms must be submitted in writing to the HFA within 30 business day prior to closing. The information sent to the HFA should include the following:

•   8.02.1 the name of the proposed lender

•   8.02.2 Motive of the tenant to apply for the loan

•   8.02.3 the principal amount of the proposed loan and the total mortgage debt that will result from the combination of the loan and any existing mortgage debt, if any

•   8.02.4 expected closing costs

•   8.02.5 the interest rate

•   8.02.6 the refund schedule

•   8.02.7 a copy of the appraisal commissioned in connection with the loan application

Can the homeowner use the property as a rental property?

No, the home can only be used as an owner-occupied not rented or leased per Article 4.04 in the Ground Lease signed during closing.

Do I pay property taxes?

Yes. As a homeowner, you are responsible for paying all property taxes on both the land and the building.

How is the SFLT property appraised?

Appraisers assign a value to SFLT homes just like they would for any other property. The value of the property is related to the market value of similar homes.

Why does the homeowner need Homestead exemption on the property?

Per Article 4, the homeowner must maintain their homestead exemption during the duration of ownership for proof of permanent full-time homesteaded residence.

Can the homeowner sell their home (improvements only)?

Yes, per Article 10 in the Ground Lease, the homeowner can sell their home to the next income-qualified person. The homeowner must notify the HFA before putting the home on the market for sale. The HFA will notify the owner of the approved sale price before going on the market.

What percentage of the appreciated value of the home will I earn?

The appreciation value is based on a formula that allows the homeowner to recover the original investment, plus a small percentage of of the appreciated value. This method is in place to keep the home affordable to future moderate- to low-income buyers.

Can the HFA end the lease term at any time?

The lease agreement between the HFA and the homeowner is a legally-binding contract. However, if the homeowner does not make payments to the HFA or violates any other terms of the contract, then the HFA may end the lease agreement.

Can the homeowner buy the property out of the Ground Lease?

No, per Article 3 in the Ground Lease, the home is in a 99-year lease and cannot be purchased out of the Ground Lease. The purpose of the Land Trust program is to keep affordable homes available in the area.

Can the homeowner add a pool or hot tub to the home?

No, per Article 7 in the Ground lease, the homeowner is not allowed to have any inground or above ground pools or hot tubs added to the home.

Is the homeowner responsible for any Ground Lease Fees?

Yes, per Article 5 of the Ground Lease, the homeowner is responsible for paying their Ground Lease fees in a timely manner to avoid late fees. If the homeowner Ground Lease payments are escrowed, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to make sure their mortgage company are making the payments on time.

Who is responsible for regular maintenance and upkeep of the home?

Per Article 6 of the Ground Lease, the homeowner is responsible for all traditional costs of homeownership including, but not limited, to the following: sales tax, real estate tax, insurance and all maintenance and upkeep of the home, including lawn and trees.

Where do I send my Ground Lease payments?

Make your payments by money order or check payable to: HFA of Pinellas County and mail to: 26750 US Hwy 19 N STE 110, Clearwater, FL 33761

Who should I contact when I have any questions about my Ground Lease Agreement?

Always contact Lolitha Stone with the Housing Finance Authority (HFA) of Pinellas County about your Ground Lease, (727) 300-0819.