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.

How it concerns to Realtors? People without a real estate license, conducting real estate services can cause serious defacement to the Realtor profession, and cause financial harm to unknowing clients.

 

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.

How it concerns to Realtors? One of the biggest issues that Florida’s economy is currently facing is the lack of affordable housing options. This has affected the workers living in the area, who decide to leave because they couldn’t find affordable places to live, shrinking some communities. This will make Florida more attractive to the workers looking to move here.

 

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.

Why it concerns to Realtors? Private property rights are the foundation of homeownership, and Realtors have an obligation to protect those rights.

 

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.

Why it concerns to Realtors? the new law focal point is to protect private property rights. Home buyers expect to use the property how they deem appropriate, and limitations on their rights can drive potential buyers away.

 

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.

How it concerns to Realtors? This reform could produce lower insurance rates in different parts of the state, making home ownership more affordable.

 

Flood Insurance 

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.

How it concerns to Realtors? Homeowners, especially first-time buyers, often think their homeowner insurance policy covers their property against flooding. This disclosure will inform them so they can make informed decisions.

 

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.

How it concerns to Realtors? Informed real estate agents can become a good resource to their clients who often have questions about the insurance options available to them.

 

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.

Why it concerns to Realtors? Condominiums that would have not retrofitted or installed fire systems to the postponed deadline, would have been out of compliance with the law, which could have created uncertainty to sellers and realtors with real estate transactions of units in these condominiums.

 

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.

Why it concerns to Realtors? Realtors not only spend a good portion of their time driving from their home or office to the properties or to meet clients, but also rely on texting to communicate with their clients and colleagues to conduct business. Now, they should plan better to avoid using the phone while on the road.

 

Environmental Funding

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.

Why it concerns to Realtors? If Issues like red tide worsen, it will impact Florida real estate industry. Several reasons bring visitors and new residents to Florida, and its natural resources is one of them.

 

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.

How it concerns to Realtors? This initiative’s goal is to assist in finding a solution to the Coastal and surrounding communities red tide recurring issue, which slowed tourism and hurt local real estate markets last year.

 

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.

Why it concerns to Realtors? Keeping the Sunshine state’s beaches in good condition will always impact the communities. Our beaches are one of the attractive features to multiple visitors, second home owners, and new residents from other states and around the world.

 

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.

Why it concerns to Realtors? Developing a community makes it grows; however, it is also important to protect the environment, and these new projects will help find the balance.

 

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 titleinfo@titlepartnersfl.com.

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