Legislation regarding estoppel certificates aims to limit outrageous HOA fees and related horror stories
By Erin Zebell, Esq.
Condominium and homeowner association estoppel certificates have been a popular topic in Tallahassee for the last couple of years, and it appears that this year we will have revised requirements under SB 398. The bill and its companion have been approved by the House and Senate and signed by the governor. It all takes effect on July 1, 2017.
An estoppel certificate is a statement that the association issues as to any amounts due and owing to the association on a property before the closing. In the past, the estoppel has included items such as any maintenance assessments due and unpaid, any special assessments due and unpaid, and any costs of collection for delinquent amounts. The certificate was required to be provided within 15 days of receiving the request and allows the association, or its management company, to charge a “reasonable fee” for the preparation of the certificate.
Under the new law, an association will have 10 business days after receiving the request (electronically or written) to provide a certificate with:
Date of Issuance;
Name of the owner of the property;
The property designation and address;
Any assigned parking or garage space;
Contact information for the association’s counsel if the account is in collection;
The amount of the fee for preparation of the estoppel; and
The name of the person/entity requesting the information.
The certificate will also require:
The frequency of assessments and amount;
The date the account is paid through;
The date due and amount of the next assessment;
An itemized list of any amounts currently due;
An itemization of the amounts to become due while the certificate is pending;
Disclosure of the existence and amount of a capital contribution fee;
If there are any open violations on the property;
If the governing documents require the buyer to be approved and if so, whether the buyer has been approved;
If the association has a right of first refusal;
A list of and contact information for any other associations governing the property;
Contact information for insurance verification; and
The signature of an officer or authorized association agent.
The certificate will be effective for a minimum of 30 days. The new law will also limit the fee charged for a typical estoppel to no more than $250.00, but additional fees may apply if there is an expedited request, the account is delinquent, or the request is for multiple properties. This fee must be included in a board resolution or contract with the management company, and if the transaction does not close and a third party paid the fee, the association must return the fee to the third party and the fee should be charged to the owner of the property. If the association does not provide the certificate within 10 days, they cannot charge.
This new law will help get certificates faster and will limit the costs associated with the estoppel certificates, as many horror stories describe fees for current owners in the thousands of dollars.
Erin Zebell, Esq., Nishad Khan PL, is a member of the Central Florida Real Estate Attorneys Council. CFREAC provides this column on real estate law issues as a service to ORRA members to provide a general understanding of the law on various topics of interest, not as substitute for individual legal consultation, and should not be relied on in specific situations without consulting with a real estate attorney. For more information, please visit centralfloridarec.com.