Governor Scott Signs Senate Bill 398- The “estoppel bill” is effective 7/1/17

By Susan P. Bakalar, Esq.
Bakalar & Associates, PA

CS/CS/CS/SB 398 – Estoppel Certificates

The bill revises requirements for estoppel certificates for condominium, cooperative, and homeowners’ associations. Under current law, when an ownership interest in a condominium unit, cooperative unit, or homeowners’ parcel is transferred, the new owner is jointly and severally liable with the previous owner for unpaid assessments owed to a condominium, cooperative, or homeowners’ association. Unpaid assessments may also become a lien on the property. Purchasers may request that the seller provide an estoppel certificate from the condominium, cooperative, or homeowners’ association to protect against undisclosed financial obligations so that title to the property may be transferred free of any lien or encumbrance in favor of the association. An estoppel certificate certifies the amount of any total debt owed to the association for unpaid monetary obligations by a unit or parcel owner as of a specified date.

The bill:

Revises the period in which an association must respond to a request for an estoppel certificate from 15 days to 10 business days.
Requires an association to designate on its website a person or entity with a street or e-mail address for receipt of a request for an estoppel certificate.
Provides an estoppel certificate delivered by hand, mail, or e-mail has a 30-day effective period.
Provides an estoppel certificate sent by regular mail has a 35-day effective period.
Identifies the persons who may complete the estoppel certificate on behalf of the board or association.
Specifies the information the association must provide in the estoppel certificate.
Prohibits an association from charging a fee for an amended estoppel certificate, and provides a new effective period of 30 days or 35 days, depending on the method used to deliver the amended certificate.
Provides an association waives the right to collect any moneys owed in excess of the amounts set forth in the estoppel certificate from any person, and his or her successors and assigns, who in good faith relies upon the certificate.
Prohibits an association from charging a fee for preparing and delivering an estoppel certificate that is requested, if it is not delivered within 10 business days.
Authorizes the use of a summary proceeding pursuant to s. 51.011, F.S., to compel compliance with the estoppel certificate requirements for a cooperative association, as existing law provides for condominium and homeowners’ associations.
Permits an association to charge a maximum fee of $250 for the preparation and delivery of an estoppel certificate, if there are no delinquent amounts owed to the association.
Permits an association to charge an additional $100 fee for an expedited estoppel certificate delivered within 3 business days after a request for an expedited certificate.
Permits an association to charge an additional maximum fee of $150, if there is a delinquent amount owed to the association.
Specifies the maximum fee an association may charge when it receives simultaneous requests for estoppel certificates for multiple units or parcels owned by the same person and there are no past due monetary obligations owed to the association. [25 units or less: $750, 26 to 50 units: $1,000, 51 to 100 units: $1,500 and for more than 100 units: $2,500].
Provides a lender or purchaser who pays for the preparation of an estoppel certificate may not waive the right to reimbursement if the closing does not occur and the prevailing party in a suit to enforce a right of reimbursement shall be awarded damages, attorney fees, and costs.
Authorizes a cooperative to charge a fee for preparing and delivering an estoppel certificate but the authorization must be established be a written resolution adopted by either the board or a written management, booking, or maintenance contract.
Requires the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to adjust the estoppel bill certificate fees for inflation every five years, rounded to the nearest dollar, and to publish the adjusted amounts on its website.

The Full Bill (19 pages) can be found by utilizing the following URL