Florida Real Estate: 2011 Legislative Update
Posted by Benjamin Dona on Saturday, May 7th, 2011 at 3:02pm.
The 2011 Florida legislative session ended late last night and the Florida real estate market scored some impressive victories as everything was said and done.
Here's a synopsis of some of the more important real estate changes:
Tax relief for non-homesteaded owners and first-time buyers - Voters in 2012 will get a chance to adopt HJR 381 which will reduce the yearly assessment cap on non-homestead property from 10% to 5%. It would also give anyone who hasn't had a homestead exemption in Florida for three years a property tax discount of 50% of the home's assessed value, not to exceed the median home price in that county. This additional first-time homestead owner exemption phases out for the property owner over five years while their Save Our Homes is phasing in. The measure also allows the Florida Legislature to prohibit assessment increases when property values fall. Currently, the Legislature does not have the power to prevent local governments from "recapturing" the tax revenues that Save Our Homes shields during a rising real estate market.
Property tax relief for wounded veterans - Currently, disabled veterans who were Florida residents when they entered military service qualify for the combat-related disabled veterans' ad valorem tax discount on homestead property. SJR 592 will also go before voters in November 2012 to extend this property tax benefit to any disabled combat veteran residing in Florida, regardless of where they lived when they entered military service.
Easing the financial burden of challenging property tax assessments - Adopted HB 281. As originally filed, this bill required property owners who appealed their real estate tax assessment to pay 75% of the tax appraised value by April 1. It was amended to allow owners to make a good faith payment during the appeal process if it extends beyond April 1 of the next year.
Protection for title insurance policyholders - HB 1007 was adopted on behalf of the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to ensure that property owners continue to have title insurance coverage even if their underwriter is liquidated. When an underwriter is liquidated, as is currently the case, all other underwriters in the state pay an assessment to DFS, and this would be passed on - over a period not to exceed seven years - to new policyholders in the form of a surcharge of up to $25. DFS indicates that the surcharge resulting from the underwriter currently being liquidated would be significantly less than $25.
Changes to last year's Condo legislation - HB 1195 was adopted and fixes the following aspects of the bill:
- Clarifies that condos less than four stories high with exterior corridors are exempt from installing manual fire alarm systems.
- Clarifies that associations are permitted to install impact glass and other code-compliant windows for hurricane protection.
- Diminishes certain rights of unit owners who are delinquent in their association fees, such as use of common areas.
- Clarifies the process by which an association can communicate with tenants of unit owners who are delinquent in their association fees and dues.
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