Florida lawmakers filed more than 3,500 bills in the last legislative session, from which 200 made it through the House and Senate. Some of the new laws are already in effect, some are effective starting July 2019, other will be effective in October 2019. Florida’s Realtors should beware, the new legislation will impact Realtors and their clients in different ways. Here we list each rule with a summary of each:
Preventing Unlicensed Real Estate Activity
The new law has set aside up to $500,000 to fight unlicensed real estate activity.
Money for Affordable Housing Projects
The government budget has $200 million for affordable housing programs, of which $115 million is included to assist Panhandle residents whose properties were devastated by Hurricane Michael.
Property Owner Bill of Rights and Tree Trimming
The new Senate bill 1400 contains measures requiring county property appraisers to publish a list of constitutionally protected property rights on their websites. They also allow 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.
Banning Vegetable Garden Restrictions
A new law prevents local governments from regulating homeowners’ vegetable gardens. The topic emerged after a Miami Shores couple had to grub up their vegetable garden due to a local ordinance. Note: this does not apply to homeowners associations (HOAs) rules.
Assignment of Benefits (AOB) Reform
The insurance process known as AOB passed in the form includes limitations on the ability of contractors to recover attorney fees if they are successful in court. This is commonly referred to as one-way attorney fees and the primary incentive behind AOB abuse.
The new law requires insurers issuing homeowners insurance policies to add a disclosure about the importance of flood insurance to policies that does not include flood coverage. The disclosure must be included in the initial policy and each renewal.
Property Insurance “Omnibus” Bill
The new law allows insurers to provide multi-policy discounts to homeowners who purchased homeowners and auto policies from the same agent. It raised the cap for reimbursement from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund for loss adjustment from 5 to 10 percent for contracts issued after June 1, 2019; pledge that applicant and agents of workers’ comp insurance don’t require to notarize their sworn statements; establish several updated for the Florida Surplus Lines industry, including abolishing the prescriptive cap agent policy fees, replacing it with a requirement that the fee be “reasonable” and separately disclosed to the customer. It also decreased the residential dwelling replacement to $700,000.
Fire and Life Safety Systems for Condos
The deadline for high-rise condominiums to be retrofitted with fire sprinklers or another engineered life safety system, was extended, postponing the effective date from Dec. 31, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2023.
Texting While Driving Ban
The new law is more severe than the Florida’s existing ban on texting, emailing and instant messaging while driving. Texting while driving is now a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can stop a vehicle solely for texting while driving.
Significant amounts of funding have been set aside to preserve Florida’s natural resources and combat environmental problems such as blue-green algae and red tide. More than $625 million will be used for things like Everglades restoration, completion of the project that will raise Tamiami Trail, springs restoration, beach restoration projects, a red tide/blue green algae task force and a septic-to-sewer cost-share program.
Fighting Red Tide
In addition to the environmental funding, $3 million a year for the next six years are set aside for 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.
Providing More Structure for Beach Restoration Projects
The new law intends to remove the arbitrary selection and assigning of funds for specified beach management projects, and the related requirements for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop and maintain. It also requires a comprehensive long-term beach management plan throughout Florida.
New Options for Wetlands Mitigation Projects
The approved rule allows developers in areas lacking private wetlands mitigation credits to partner with local governments to mitigate on publicly-owned conservation land.
We, at Title Partners of Florida, write and support the real estate transaction closing, including the issuance of title insurance policies through Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund. We also coordinate searches, title products, and a variety of other services for our clients. Contact us with any questions about our real estate closing services by phone (844) 321-6168 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.