As current Residential President of The Miami Association of REALTORS, I would like to let our neighbors know about the amazing victories we just had on your behalf, for home-ownership rights.
Florida Realtors Legislative Victories
- Remedies to Open and Expired Permits — Open and expired permits can delay a closing, and in some cases, kill the deal because of the uncertainty associated with them. To address the problem, HB 447 allows local governments to close a permit six years after its issuance as long as no apparent safety hazards exist. It also prevents local governments from penalizing property owners for an open permit that was applied for by a previous owner. Effective: October 1, 2019.
- Approval of Online Remote Notaries — HB 409 allows the use of online remote notaries in real estate transactions to make closings easier, faster and more convenient for distant parties. Effective: January 1, 2020.
- Curbing AOB Abuse to Keep Insurance Affordable — HB 7065 limits the ability of contractors to receive payment for their attorney fees if the claim is settled or won in court. This is commonly referred to as one-way attorney fees and is the primary incentive behind AOB fraud. Please note, all provisions of the bill become effective on July 1, 2019, except for provisions relating to attorney fees which become effective upon the bill being signed into law.
- $682 Million for Environmental Projects — Communities throughout Florida were devastated last year by environmental issues such as blue-green algae and red tide. The Legislature responded with significant amounts of funding for environmental projects designed to address these problems. Effective: July 1, 2019.
- Additional Reduction to the Business Rent Tax — Businesses throughout Florida will save more than $65 million each year due to a .2% reduction of the Business Rent Tax. The new state tax rate on commercial leases will be 5.5%, down from 5.7% in 2018 and 6% in 2017. Effective: January 1, 2020.
- More than $200 million for Affordable Housing Projects — The Legislature allocated $200.6 million from the state and local government housing trust funds for affordable housing programs. This includes $115 million to assist Panhandle residents whose properties were devastated by Hurricane Michael. Effective: July 1, 2019.
- Continued Funding for LIDAR Mapping — The budget includes language that allows the Division of Emergency Management to continue spending the $15 million currently being used for LIDAR (light detection and ranging) mapping. LIDAR is a next-generation mapping technique and has the potential to lower flood insurance rates throughout Florida. Effective: July 1, 2019.
- Preventing Unlicensed Real Estate Activity — The Legislature allocated up to $500,000 from the Professional Regulation Trust Fund to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to combat unlicensed real estate activity. Effective: July 1, 2019.
When you hear that we are headed to Tallahassee to meet with legislators to discuss important issues impacting Florida's real estate industry, now you know why.
Other Bills of Interest to Realtors
- Fighting red tide through research and technology — SB 1552 establishes the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative, a partnership between the state and Mote Marine Laboratory to develop technologies that can control and mitigate red tide and its impact. Lawmakers appropriated $3 million a year for the next six years to fund the initiative. Effective: July 1, 2019.
- Banning local governments from restricting vegetable gardens — SB 82prevents local governments from regulating homeowners’ vegetable gardens. The issue stemmed from a couple in Miami Shores who had to uproot their vegetable garden due to a local ordinance. This does not apply to homeowners associations (HOAs). Effective: July 1, 2019.
- Flood insurance matters — HB 617 requires insurers that do not provide flood insurance to provide a disclosure at initial issuance and each renewal regarding the importance of flood insurance. Effective: July 1, 2019.
- Property insurance changes — HB 301 includes a host of insurance revisions. The bill removes the $100 cap for insurers who provide loss control/mitigation goods or services (e.g. a temperature/humidity sensor) to policyholders and makes it easier for owners who have dwellings valued at $700,000 or more to obtain surplus lines of coverage. Effective: July 1, 2019.
- Property owner bill of rights and tree trimming — SB 1400 requires county appraisers to publish a list of constitutionally protected property rights on their websites. The bill also allows property owners to trim or remove trees on their property without consequence as long as they have a letter from a certified arborist or landscape architect stating the tree is a danger. Effective: July 1, 2019.
- Providing more structure for beach restoration projects — HB 325 creates a five-year work plan for beach renourishment projects throughout Florida based on a specific set of criteria. The new approach is intended to remove the arbitrary selection of projects that currently exists. Effective: July 1, 2019.
- More options for wetlands mitigation projects — HB 521 allows developers in areas lacking private wetlands mitigation credits to partner with local governments to mitigate on publicly-owned conservation land. Effective: July 1, 2019.
- Fire and life safety systems for condos — HB 647 extends the deadline for high-rise condominiums that must be retrofitted with fire sprinklers or another engineered life safety system from Dec. 31, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2023. Effective: July 1, 2019.
- Texting while driving ban gets tougher — HB 107 strengthens Florida’s existing ban on texting, emailing and instant messaging while driving. The bill changes current enforcement of the ban from a secondary offense to a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can now stop a vehicle solely for texting while driving. Effective: July 1, 2019.
- Military affairs — SB 620, in its original form, included a provision that capped the total money owed by an active duty service member who was entering into a lease at no more than the total of two months’ rent. Although the bill passed, the language pertaining to the cap was removed from the bill. Effective: July 1, 2019.