Monday, July 5, 2010

Big Changes to Condo Laws Take Effect

ORLANDO, Fla. – July 1, 2010 – A massive condominium bill addressing everything from fire sprinkler retrofits to incentives for moving excess condo inventory is among the real estate-related legislation taking effect today. “Legislators introduced more than 50 bills this session dealing with some aspect of condominiums and condominium associations,” says John Sebree, vice president of public policy for the Florida Realtors®. “At the end of the day, there was one – SB 1196 by Sen. Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey). We worked hard to make sure this 103-page bill contained at least two of the many changes sought by Realtors: incentives for buyers of multiple condo units and repealing the requirement that individual owners carry hazard insurance.” The “bulk buyer” provision seeks to stimulate condo sales by enabling investors to purchase condo units in bulk (seven-plus units) without incurring the legal and financial liabilities of the original developer. The hazard insurance provision repeals a 2008 law requiring unit owners to provide proof of insurance every year. If a unit owner failed to provide a certificate of insurance, the association was allowed to purchase insurance on the owner’s behalf and assess the unit owner for the cost of the insurance. SB 1196 also specifies that: • Florida law no longer requires owners to purchase individual unit owner insurance coverage, though it could still be required by lenders or through the Declaration of Condominium;• Associations of condos over 75 feet high aren’t required to retrofit sprinkler systems;• Lenders must pay more of past-due assessments on foreclosed properties;• Associations may deny owners or occupants the use of common areas and recreational amenities when the owner is more than 90 days delinquent in paying financial obligations due to the association; and• Associations may divert tenant rents to pay for delinquent assessments owed by unit owners. Other laws taking effect today that impact real estate transactions or real estate practitioners provide that: • Documentary stamp taxes on short sales are based on the purchase price, not on the amount of the outstanding mortgage balance. HB 109 by Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Fort Lauderdale) codifies into law a similar ruling in 2008 by the Florida Department of Revenue. • Real estate and appraiser instructors and real estate school permit holders may serve on the Florida Real Estate Commission and the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board under HB 713 by Rep. Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne).• Home inspectors, mold assessors and mold remediators must be licensed by the state effective July 1, 2010. All applicants are required to complete a 120-hour course. But the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) lacked authority to approve the course until July 1. Consequently, the DBPR says it won’t enforce the licensing requirements until July 1, 2011. Visit the department website [] for details. On a related note, HB 663 by Rep. Gary Aubuchon (R-Coral Springs) allows these inspectors, as well as appraisers and real estate brokers and sales associates, to take distance learning courses to satisfy pre-license and post-license requirements. A grandfather clause allows some inspectors to get a license without taking the course, providing they’ve conducted at least 120 previous inspections over the past three years.• More housing choices for individuals with disabilities. SB 1166 by Sen. Thad Altman (R-Melbourne) removes, among other things, a requirement that community residential homes for disabled persons be located 1,000 feet from each other within planned residential communities.© 2010 Florida Realtors®

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