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FR: May 31, 2024 Public Policy Update

By Kymberly Franklin posted 20 days ago

  

Public Policy Update

Hello everyone. In last week’s update we mentioned that Gov. DeSantis had received three of our priority bills. Thankfully, he signed two of them this week, and we anticipate that he will sign the final one very soon.

The first is HB 1049, which is the bill we worked on and supported during session that requires a seller to disclose in writing certain flood information to a prospective purchaser at or before executing a contract for the sale of residential property. Our support for this bill was based largely on helping buyers make more informed decisions and reducing post-closing litigation that often involves our members. This new law will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2024, and we plan to put together a graphic that will help outline the new requirements so you can be prepared. 

The second bill is HB 59, which requires homeowners’ associations (HOAs) to deliver a physical or digital copy of their rules and covenants to all members and new members. This bill is all about transparency and helping owners get access to much-needed information about the association in which they live.

You can read more about both of these priority bills in this Florida Realtors news article.

The remaining bill is HB 1203, which also deals with HOAs. This one requires that by January 1, 2025, homeowners’ associations with 100 or more parcels must maintain official records on their website or an app. Again, this is about transparency and helping people get access to important documentation. As I said, we expect that the governor will sign this bill soon.

With these two bills signed, the only legislative priorities remaining that require the governor’s signature are HB 1203, the condominium transparency bill (HB 1021), and the budget (HB 5001).


My Safe Florida Home Program Update

The Florida Dept. of Financial Services (DFS) has released some new information about the My Safe Florida Home Program which has been a legislative priority of ours for the past few years. This is the program that Floridians can use to protect their homes against storms and reduce their insurance premiums. If you recall, the program received an additional $200 million this year along with some other changes to make it more accessible. 

You can read the full, one-page pdf update by clicking on this link. DFS has also released a video that outlines the updates which you can see here. I’d encourage you to review the full update, but here are the high points:

  • Homeowners can choose ANY Certified Florida State contractor to make important retrofit upgrades to their homes. (Contractors must be certified by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Local government licenses will not be accepted.) The current contractor list maintained by the Program will cease to exist on July 1, 2024. It will be up to each homeowner to find and manage their own contractor in the open marketplace—which should lead to increased competition and better pricing.
  • Next, to consolidate the reimbursement process with one set of rules—all grant dollars will be paid directly to the Florida homeowner for them to distribute, including low-income grants.
  • Finally, there will be a new application process for grants using a tiered approach to prioritize low- and moderate-income Floridians who are sixty and older.

Business Rent Tax Reduction Guidance Released

The Florida Dept. of Revenue has released a Tax Information Publication that outlines the Business Rent Tax reduction to 2% that will take place tomorrow. The publication states:

“Effective June 1, 2024, the state sales tax rate imposed under section 212.031, Florida Statutes (F.S.), on the total rent charged for renting, leasing, letting, or granting a license to use real property (also known as “commercial rentals”) is reduced from 4.5% to 2.0%. Some examples of real property rentals subject to tax under s. 212.031, F.S., include rentals of commercial office or retail space, warehouses, and self-storage units or mini-warehouses.”

There is much more information available which you can find here.


Property Insurance Analysis: 'Cautiously Optimistic'

We wanted to point you to this Florida Relators news story that highlights some positive property insurance news. The article states that, with a potentially volatile hurricane season ready to start, the AM Best financial-rating agency released a report Thursday that said Florida’s property insurance market is showing signs of improvement — but that time will tell.

The report said AM Best is “cautiously optimistic” about the Florida market, in part because of an overhaul passed by lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022 that included trying to shield insurers from costly lawsuits. Other factors include a decrease since September in the number of homeowners getting coverage from the state’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

“While still too early to declare a win in the Florida personal property market, the signals look promising,” the report said. “The legislative reforms and declining Citizens’ policies in force mark a step in the right direction. Time will tell if favorable market results will continue and effectively managing hurricane risk is an ongoing challenge.”

The full article can be found here.


Are You Prepared for Hurricane Season? 

Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis wants to make sure everyone is ready for the 2024 hurricane season which starts tomorrow. In a news release today, CFO Patronis highlighted hurricane preparedness financial tips and resources to aid Floridians with their disaster plans as an active storm season is predicted with up to 25 named storms and seven major hurricanes. The CFO also encouraged Floridians to take advantage of the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday starting June 1st – June 14th.

Here are four hurricane preparedness tips that he shared:

  • Secure flood insurance coverage. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. If you live in a flood-prone area, contact your agent about obtaining flood insurance. There are over 30 insurance carriers writing flood insurance in Florida’s private insurance market. Depending on your home’s location, you may qualify to enroll in the federally-administered National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Ensure you are adequately covered. The value of your home and possessions may have increased during the past several years, or you may have made improvements or purchased expensive personal items. Review your insurance policy and check your coverage limits.
  • Consider additional living expense coverage. Additional living expense features of most homeowners’ policies pay some expenses for losses that leave homes unlivable during repairs. Such expenses could include limited motel, restaurant and storage costs.
  • Do not wait until a storm approaches. Property insurance companies do not accept new applications or requests to increase coverage once a hurricane nears Florida, so it is important not to wait until a storm is imminent to verify coverages. In addition, most flood insurance policies take 30 days to go into effect, so it is vital to act now.

Please reach out to us at publicpolicy@floridarealtors.org with any questions you may have.

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