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New Arizona law will help homeowners when property is destroyed by natural disaster

A deadline to rebuild homes lost to a wildfire in Coconino County and a flood in Gila Bend was a catalyst for legislation recently signed by Gov,. Katie Hobbs.

The Maricopa County Assessor’s Office calls the bill significant for supporting property owners affected by natural disasters.

When a home is destroyed by natural disaster, and the owner doesn’t rebuild within a year, Arizona law has required county assessors to label the property vacant.

But the reclassification could mean a higher tax for the owner while they’re still recovering.

New state law will give the owner more time to resolve insurance claims, get construction permits and rebuild their home.

Maricopa County Assessor Eddie Cook lobbied for the bill on behalf of all county assessors in Arizona. 

“We’re going now from a one year window to now a five-year window,” Cook said.

He also said that the tax calendar means homeowners still get the five-year rebuilding window even if their house is destroyed by a future wildfire that occurs before the law takes effect.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.