News & Information: Orlando REALTOR® magazine - Special Feature

2017 Florida Legislative Session Wrap-up

Monday, June 26, 2017  
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Florida Capitol Building
Orlando REALTOR® | JulyAugust 2017

Florida REALTORS® lobbying results in real estate favored legislation

The 2017 Florida Legislative session is over, bills have already been signed by Gov. Rick Scott, and some have even already taken effect. Here’s a recap of some of Florida REALTORS®’ biggest legislative victories.

Read the complete 2017 End of Legislative Session Report by Florida REALTORS®

estoppel certificate fees
SB 398 caps estoppel certificate fees at $250 for unit owners who are current in their assessments. Associations may charge an additional $100 for expedited estoppel certificates (delivered within three business days) and another $150 to owners who are delinquent in their assessments. The bill sets the price of estoppel certificates for multiple units owned by the same person, and establishes a uniform, statewide format that ensures buyers and closing agents receive the appropriate and uniform information needed to close the real estate transaction. This bill also requires certificates to be valid for 30 days if delivered electronically or 35 days if delivered by mail. Effective: July 1, 2017.

business rent tax
Businesses throughout Florida that rent their commercial space will save more than $60 million each year due to a reduction of the business rent tax. The new state sales tax rate businesses will pay on their commercial leases will be 5.8 percent down from 6 percent. Effective: Jan. 1, 2018.

affordable housing project funding
Florida’s affordable housing programs received their highest funding level in a decade, with $137 million coming from the state and local government housing trust funds and $113 million from the Florida Housing Guarantee Fund. These funds will go a long way in helping Floridians achieve the dream of homeownership with downpayment assistance. They also provide rental assistance and housing rehabilitation to Florida's homeless, veterans and persons with disabilities. There is also more than $22 million in additional funds for housing projects/services around the state, such as programs for individuals who are homeless.

tax exemptions for disabled first responders
HB 455 implements a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 2016. It provides a 100 percent homestead tax exemption to first responders who become totally and permanently disabled in the line of duty. The bill also extends the 100 percent exemption to the surviving spouse under certain conditions. The estimated tax savings for these property owners is $4.5 million. Effective: Upon becoming law.

condominium termination law
Legislation passed in 2015 to protect condo owners from being forced to sell -- possibly at a loss -- has several loopholes that real estate investors and bulk buyers have exploited. SB 1520 modifies the condo termination process by reducing the percentage of owners required to reject the termination -- from 10 percent to 5 percent. Effective: July 1, 2017.

condominium oversight
HB 1237 provides several new condo oversight rules: (1) a condo association with more than 150 units must publish its financial reports and other documents (bylaws, articles of incorporation, condo rules) on a password-protected web page; (2) if an owner is denied documents and fraud is proven, persons responsible for fraudulent activity could face felony charges; (3) the term of a condo board director is limited to eight years, with some exceptions. Effective: July 1, 2017.

private flood insurance
As REALTORS® petition Congress to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), lawmakers continue to work to attract private flood insurance capital to Florida. HB 813 accomplishes two primary goals: (1) Rating flexibility for flood insurers is extended from 2019 until 2025 before they must follow guidelines similar to other lines of coverage. Not extending this provision could discourage private insurers from entering the Florida market; (2) insurance agents can place flood policies with surplus lines insurers for two more years — until 2019 — before they must make a "diligent effort" to place the coverage with carriers regulated by the state. Diligent effort requires an agent to seek coverage and be rejected by at least three regulated carriers writing the same type of coverage. Effective: July 1, 2017.

affordable housing workgroup funding
Up to $100,000 is provided for expenses for the Affordable Housing Workgroup, a 14-member board (that includes one REALTOR®) charged with developing recommendations for addressing the state's affordable housing needs by Jan. 1, 2018. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation will approve the recommendations.

appraiser compliance
HB 927 is a Department of Business and Professional Regulation bill that ensures appraisal management companies (AMCs) remain in compliance with the Dodd-Frank Act. Additionally, AMCs may not require lenders to hold them harmless from claims over an appraiser's performance. The bill also authorizes the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board to consider other standards of practice in non-federally related transactions. Effective: Oct. 1, 2017.

unlicensed real estate activity fund
Up to $500,000 from the Professional Regulation Trust Fund is provided to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to combat unlicensed real estate activity.

drone regulation
HB 1027 preempts the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) to the state of Florida. This will prevent drone operators from having to potentially comply with ordinances adopted by 400+ local governments. Effective: July 1, 2017.

Approved Constitutional Amendments

non-homestead property taxes
In 2008, voters approved Amendment 1, which created a 10 percent cap on the annual increase of property taxes for all non-homestead properties. The 2008 amendment sunsets on Jan. 1, 2019, unless renewed in the 2018 general election. HJR 21 puts the question before voters again in November 2018. Unlike the 2008 referendum, which had a 10-year lifespan, HJR 21 would make the cap permanent.

homestead tax exemption
Representing $645 million (and then increasing in subsequent years) in property tax savings, HJR 7105 puts a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot that would allow homeowners to shield an additional $25,000 of the value of their home from non-school property taxes. This additional $25,000 would apply the exemption to the portion of values between $100,000 and $125,000. Effective Jan. 1, 2019, if approved by 60 percent of voters.

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