Legislature Passes New Estoppel Fee Laws

An estoppel certificate provides an overview of the assessments and fees that a seller may owe to their HOA/condo association to date and is provided by the association when a property is being sold.  Prior to these new laws, Florida law allowed associations to charge a “reasonable” fee to prepare an estoppel certificate; without any guidance as to what was a “reasonable” amount.

HB 483/SB 398 cap the fees that can be charged for estoppel certificates at $250 for unit owners who are current in their assessments. An additional $100 can be charged for “expedited” estoppel certificates (delivered within three business days), and another $150 can be charged for owners who are delinquent in their assessments.  This is a maximum of $500 for an expedited, delinquent estoppel certificate.

HB 483/SB 398 also require certificates to be valid for 30 days and provide for a standard estoppel certificate form to ensure the same information is provided to owners across Florida.

This will likely put an end to over-inflated estoppel fees changes by associations and law firms alike.

Legislature Passes Bill Placing Oversight on Condo Boards

Florida lawmakers passed a bill this week placing oversight on condo boards that imposes criminal penalties for some board violations.

This bill was drafted upon recommendations of a Miami-Dade grand jury and Florida’s DBPR after the uncovering of massive condo board fraud by various news outlets in 2016.

To become law, the bill, CS/CS/HB 1237, still needs Gov. Scott’s signature.  If signed, it becomes effective on July 1, 2017.

 

CS/CS/HB 1237 covers a number of condo oversight rules, but high-profile ones include:

  • If a condo association has more than 150 units, it must publish its financial reports on a password-protected web page.
  • If owners are denied documents and if fraud is proven, the people responsible for the fraud could face felony charges after July 2018.
  • Condo board directors are limited to eight years unless they get a super-majority of votes in later elections.
  • Directors can’t receive payments from the condo association, nor can they hire relatives.