A review of house bill 611 (HB611) [3-5-15]

A Brief Review of Florida House of Representatives Bill 611 (HB611)

by Susan P. Bakalar, Esq.

Bakalar & Associates, PA

Florida House of Representatives Bill 611 (HB611) was filed on 2/5/15 and is a proposed act relating to residential properties; amending ss. 718.116 and 720.30851.

In essence, the bill, submitted by Representative John Wood proposes numerous changes/additions to include:

(1) Requiring that estoppel certificates be issued within 10 days after receipt of a written request (as opposed to the current 15 day window).(2) Requires that the estoppel certificate be valid for a period of not less than 30 days.

(3) Discussed that an association waives its lien rights against a unit, or person who would have relied on an estoppel, in good faith, upon the certificate had it been delivered related to any monies owed to the association by the unit owner with respect to a given unit for 40 days after the date of the request.

(4) Discusses the fees associated with issuing an estoppel and attempts to limit the fee to $100 AND makes the fee due and owing upon closing, NOT in advance.

(5) Advises that if a closing does not occur within 120 days after the date the estoppel certificate is issued that the fee for the estoppel certificate becomes the obligation of the unit owner and is collectible in the same manner as an assessment.

(6) Advises that if the unit owner for whom an estoppel certificate is being requested is in legal collection, an additional fee not to exceed $50 may be charged.

(7) Advises that if a rush estoppel certificate is requested that the fee for same cannot exceed $50.00.

(8) Advises that if an additional estoppel certificate is requested within the initial 30 day period of the first estoppel that an additional fee may be charged not to exceed $50.00.

(9) Sets for the rates charged for multiple estoppel certificates for property owned by the same owner. Interestingly, the proposal notes that it if an owner owns 25 or fewer units and an estoppel certificate is requested for each unit (and there are no past due balances) that a fee of $750 can be charged. Logically, if someone owns 2 or 3 units, that is more than 1 unit and counts as “multiple” and would thereby appear to remove the limit of $100 per unit.

(10) The proposal appears to attempt to place a limit on the attorney’s fees charged for preparing and issuing an estoppel certificate. The proposal notes that “The association may collect reasonable attorney fees and costs in connection with the collection of past due moneys. The amount of the fee may not exceed $100.” The proposal does go on to also allow a few additional charges such as $50.00 if referred for collection (and we assume that this is a fee that the Association/management may charge), expedited charges, additional estoppel requests, etc…

Clearly, there is a lot in the proposed bill and we need to closely follow this bill as it affects property owners, managers, management companies as well as accounting firms and law firms who issue estoppel certificates as well as the title agents, Realtors and owners who request the estoppel certificates.