If you are like most Americans, your largest asset may very well be your real estate holdings, whether they be a primary residence or income properties. In fact, for many homeowners along the coasts, their sole income is made through the sale or rental of coastal properties.

But what happens to that income and livelihood when a not so natural disaster strikes? The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill has been leaking millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for months now, even since the April 20, 2010 drilling explosion. This leak has shut down miles of beaches, affecting vacation properties in the height of their season.

What course of action do you have, as a homeowner, if the BP Oil spill has made it impossible for you to rent your property?

One of the first steps would be to file a claim with BP. While there has been some debate over whether certain situations will be covered, such as real estate agents losing business or homeowner's losing home value, you may still file a claim.

Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund, in congressional testimony, has noted that real estate agents' demands are one of tough eligibility decisions to be made.

To date BP has paid more than $200 million in claims. Once BP makes its first large deposit to the claims fund then a compensation fund will begin making emergency payments.

BP notes that they are "committed to paying all legitimate claims for damages resulting from the oil spill and necessary response costs." This includes:

  • Property damage
  • Net loss of profits and earning capacity
  • Subsistence loss and natural resource damage
  • Removal and cleanup costs
  • Cost of increased public services
  • Net loss of government revenue

To place a claim, you can call 1-800-440-0858, or do so online by clicking here.

The Official U.S. Government site, RestoretheGulf.gov, also gives you the opportunity to review information and reports regarding the spill, as well as a place to submit claims, report a concern, volunteer, or submit a suggestion.

This site also gives you suggestions, especially for businesses, of where to turn if BP denies your claim.

Another option is for individuals and businesses looking for information on federal assistance. You can visit DisasterAssistance.gov. Before applying for federal assistance, individuals should first make a claim with BP.

If you have been affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, you have many supporters and sympathizers. Please speak with your local officials and make a claim to BP in order to offset your losses and costs.

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