1997 Florida Legislative Session Real Property Bills That Passed

Mobile Homes: Two bills passed. HB 89 provides alternatives to park recreation district boards of trustees for collecting assessments and enforcing liens for assessments. SB 750 provides for reasonable costs and attorneys' fees when the obligation of good faith and fair dealing is breached. It also revises the provisions for lot rental increases and amends arbitration procedures.

Homeowners’ Associations: Two bills passed. HB 113 provides that statutory provisions which apply to association board meetings also apply to meetings of committees when a final decision will be reached about the expenditure of association funds. Also, the bill increases the fines that associations may impose. HB 395 provides a procedure homeowners' associations can use to prevent F.S. Chapter 712 (which governs marketable record title) from operating to extinguish certain covenants and restrictions in real property.

Florida Uniform Land Sales Practices Act: This bill was significantly revised in HB 169. The bill amends definitions and revises language controlling the general powers and duties of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes. It also authorizes the Division to apply to the circuit court for ordering restitution and imposing civil penalties; and, provides penalties for diverting funds and making material misrepresentations to the Division.

Brokerage Relationship Disclosure Act: The bill categorizes the types of authorized relationships between real estate brokers and customers and requires disclosures of each relationship for residential real estate transactions. It also clarifies the duties of single agents and transaction brokers and eliminates dual agency as a form of representation, replacing it with transaction brokerage.

Condominium and Cooperative Disputes: SB 1234 requires the use of mediation instead of arbitration proceedings and provides for arbitration by mutual agreement of all parties in a dispute. The bill redefines “dispute” to exclude the use of arbitration when alleging particular claims or seeking certain remedies and gives the Division authority to establish guidelines for violations of F.S. Chapters 718 and 719.

Property Assessment for Ad Valorem Tax: HB 445 requires that the property appraiser's assessment or determination be presumed correct in cases in which a citizen challenges a determination made by an appraiser when establishing the ad valorem tax. The taxpayer now bears the burden of overcoming the presumption of correctness by a preponderance of the evidence, but does not have the burden of presenting proof that excludes every reasonable hypothesis of a legal assessment. The new standards apply in both administrative and judicial proceedings and take effect when the bill becomes law, applying to assessments included in the January 1, 1997 tax roll.

Taxes on Secured Lending Transactions and Promissory Notes: SB 648 amends provisions relating to imposing nonrecurring intangible personal property taxes and excise taxes on documents in connection with certain secured lending transactions. The bill expands the definition of “residence” to include both primary and secondary homes for purposes of calculating the intangible personal property tax imposed on mortgages securing lines of credit. It also creates three new subsections to the statutory section governing documentary stamp taxes on promissory notes and other similar documents. The first describes which types of document modifications are subject to documentary stamp taxation as renewals. The second specifies that taxability shall be determined solely from the face of the document and any documents expressly incorporated into the document. The third prohibits multiple taxation of documents in transactions in which one party is obligated under a promissory note and a different party is obligated under a mortgage for the promissory note. The provision on determining taxability based on the face of the document has the effect of overruling the decision in Computer Sales International, Inc. v Department of Revenue, 656 So.2d 1382 (Flat 1st DCA), rev. denied, 666 So.2d 142 (1995).

Ad Valorem Taxes: Several bills relating to ad valorem taxation passed. Senate Joint Resolution 844 authorizes the Legislature to allow counties and cities to provide ad valorem tax exemptions for historic properties and to assess those properties on the basis of character or use. The joint resolution amends §§3 and 4 of Article VII and creates §22 of Article XII of the State Constitution. The amendments become effective on January 1, 1999. HB 157 provides an exemption from ad valorem tax for the homesteads of surviving spouses of veterans killed while on active duty.

Construction Laws: SB 842 revises the construction lien statutes and includes unpaid finance charges due under a claimant's contract among charges that may be assessed against certain contractor's bonds. SB 1246 restricts the contents of the minimum building codes. This controversial bill passed the Senate 23 to 13 and the House 73 to 44.

Growth Management and Development: HB 1067, referred to as the Brownfields Legislation, removes many barriers to the reuse of industrial sites for new purposes, and SB 1154 revises the statewide guidelines and standards for substantial deviations for developments of regional impact. The bill also provides an expedited permitting process for economic development projects and comprehensive plan amendments.


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