New Florida Real Estate Laws

New Florida Real Estate Laws cover picture shows the Florida State Capitol.

New Florida Real Estate Laws: What You Need to Know

As a Realtor with Avalon Group Realty in St. Petersburg, FL, I’m always keeping an eye on legislative changes that affect our industry and our clients. This year, several new laws are set to take effect on July 1, 2024, and they’re poised to have a significant impact on Florida’s real estate landscape. In this blog post, I’ll break down these new laws and what they mean for homeowners, buyers, and the real estate community at large.

New Florida Real Estate Laws: Cracking Down on Condo and HOA Misconduct

Perhaps the most significant changes come in the form of HB 1021 and HB 1203, which address long-standing issues with condominium and homeowners associations (HOAs). These laws introduce criminal penalties for board members and managers who engage in misconduct, including accepting kickbacks and hiding records.

Aaron Hunt, Broker of Avalon Group Realty, comments on the importance of these changes: “For years, we’ve seen cases of mismanagement and fraud in some condo and HOA communities. These new laws add much-needed accountability and should help protect homeowners from unscrupulous board members.”

The legislation is a direct response to numerous complaints from residents about various types of mismanagement, including:

  • Election meddling
  • Excessive assessment increases
  • Inadequate property maintenance
  • Fraud and fund misappropriation

One of the most notable cases that prompted these changes was the Hammocks case in West Kendall, where former board members were arrested for allegedly running a massive fraud scheme.

Furthermore, the new HOA law requires associations to provide subpoenaed records within five business days, addressing a common issue faced by investigators and residents trying to uncover misconduct.

Interestingly, while these laws tighten regulations in many areas, they also removed proposed caps on assessment increases that were initially included in the HOA legislation.

Balancing Power in Condo-Hotels

Another significant change comes in the form of an addition to HB 1021, which addresses the complex power dynamics in condo-hotels. These mixed-use complexes, often branded by high-end hotel chains like St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton, have long been a source of contention between unit owners and commercial lot owners.

The new law codifies the power of commercial lot owners under the Florida Condominium Act, potentially giving them more control over property maintenance and assessments. While this change may benefit the overall maintenance of these properties, it’s likely to spark further litigation from unit owners who feel their rights are being infringed upon.

Yvette Kim, a fellow Realtor at Avalon Group Realty, shares her perspective: “This change in condo-hotel regulation is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it could lead to better-maintained properties, which is great for property values. On the other, it may leave some unit owners feeling powerless. As Realtors, we’ll need to be extra diligent in explaining these dynamics to potential buyers.”

Expediting Building Permits

In response to long-standing frustrations with building permit bottlenecks, especially in large counties like Miami-Dade, SB 812 aims to speed up the permitting process for residential subdivisions and planned communities.

This law requires large counties and municipalities to create programs by October 1 to expedite building permit approvals. It applies to counties with at least 75,000 residents and municipalities with at least 10,000 residents, as well as localities with more than 25 contiguous acres of land designated for residential development.

Pam Amante, another experienced Realtor, notes the potential impact: “Faster permitting could be a game-changer for developers and homebuyers alike. It could lead to quicker completion of new communities and potentially help address our ongoing housing supply issues.”

New Florida Real Estate Laws: Changes to Citizens Insurance

HB 1503 introduces changes to Citizens Insurance Corp., the state-backed insurer of last resort. The law now allows surplus lines insurers to take out policies from Citizens for non-primary residences or non-homesteaded properties. Additionally, it allows Citizens policyholders who are required to have flood insurance to purchase only dwelling coverage for flood loss, potentially reducing costs for consumers.

However, it’s worth noting that despite these changes, Citizens’ board of governors recently voted to raise rates for personal lines by an average of 14 percent statewide, set to take effect next year.

Banning Local Heat Protection Laws

In a move that has sparked some controversy, House Bill 433 bans local governments from adopting legislation related to heat exposure protections for workers. This includes regulations on water consumption, cooling measures, employee monitoring, rest breaks, and informational materials about heat protection.

This law effectively halts Miami-Dade County’s efforts to create heat protections for outdoor workers, including those in construction and agriculture. Given the record-breaking heat experienced in parts of Florida this summer, this law has raised concerns among worker advocates.

Short-Term Rental Bill Vetoed

Interestingly, while several new laws are set to take effect, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed Senate Bill 280, which would have imposed new regulations on short-term rentals. The bill aimed to curb “party houses” by limiting occupancy and would have overridden most existing county and municipal regulations on short-term rentals.

Aaron Hunt offers his thoughts on this veto: “The short-term rental market is a complex issue that affects many of our clients, both positively and negatively. While some regulation may be necessary, finding the right balance is crucial. The veto of this bill suggests that more work needs to be done to find a solution that works for all stakeholders.”

What This Means for Florida Real Estate

As we move forward with these new laws, it’s clear that the Florida real estate landscape is evolving. From increased accountability in condo and HOA management to potential changes in condo-hotel dynamics and faster building permit processes, these laws will have far-reaching effects on homeowners, buyers, and the real estate industry as a whole.

Yvette Kim summarizes the situation well: “As Realtors, our job is to stay informed about these changes and help our clients navigate them. Whether it’s explaining the new protections against HOA fraud or discussing the potential implications of the condo-hotel law, we need to be ready to provide clear, accurate information.”

In conclusion, while these new laws bring significant changes, they also present opportunities. For homeowners, there’s increased protection against mismanagement and fraud. For developers, there’s the potential for faster project completions. And for us as Realtors, there’s the opportunity to provide even more value to our clients by helping them understand and navigate these new regulations.

As always, if you have any questions about how these new laws might affect your real estate decisions, don’t hesitate to reach out. At Avalon Group Realty, we’re committed to staying on top of these changes to ensure we’re providing the best possible service to our clients.


New Florida Real Estate Laws: Looking Ahead: The Future of Florida Real Estate

As we digest the implications of these new laws, it’s important to consider their potential long-term effects on Florida’s real estate market. Let’s explore some key areas that may see significant changes in the coming years.

Condo and HOA Management: A New Era of Transparency

With the implementation of HB 1021 and HB 1203, we’re likely to see a shift towards more transparent and accountable management in condos and HOAs. This could lead to:

  • Increased buyer confidence in condo and HOA properties
  • More stringent vetting processes for board members and management companies
  • A potential rise in property values as communities become better managed

“These new laws could be a watershed moment for condo and HOA communities,” says Aaron Hunt. “We might see a renewed interest in these properties as buyers feel more protected against mismanagement and fraud.”

The Changing Face of Condo-Hotels

The codification of commercial lot owners’ power in condo-hotels could reshape this sector of the market:

  • Potential for improved maintenance and amenities in high-end branded properties
  • Possible shifts in the buyer demographic for condo-hotel units
  • Increased scrutiny of condo-hotel declarations by potential buyers

Yvette Kim adds, “While the condo-hotel law changes may lead to some initial turbulence, they could ultimately result in more stable and well-maintained properties, which is good news for both investors and residents.”

Building Boom on the Horizon?

The streamlined permitting process introduced by SB 812 could have far-reaching effects:

  • Potential increase in new residential developments
  • Faster completion times for planned communities
  • Possible easing of housing supply issues in rapidly growing areas

“We’re cautiously optimistic about the permitting changes,” notes Pam Amante. “If implemented effectively, they could help address some of our market’s supply challenges, particularly in high-demand areas.”

Insurance Market Evolution

The changes to Citizens Insurance and the ongoing challenges in Florida’s insurance market may lead to:

  • More diverse insurance options for homeowners
  • Potential shifts in property values based on insurance availability and cost
  • Increased focus on flood protection and mitigation measures

As we move forward, these areas will undoubtedly continue to evolve. At Avalon Group Realty, we’re committed to staying ahead of these trends to provide our clients with the most up-to-date and valuable insights into Florida’s dynamic real estate market.

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