Keeping up with real estate trends means you also need to know what is happening in the legislation. The following was posted online by the Florida Realtor News May 3, 2013
Highlights of the 2013 legislative session
BILLS THAT PASSED this week.
Affordable housing programs. Lawmakers allocated more than $200 million from the large national mortgage settlement last year to numerous housing programs:
- The Senate’s settlement spending plan, SB 1852 , which provides $50 million for rental assistance (State Apartment Incentive Loans or SAIL)
- $40 million to refurbish existing homes for low-income families and provide down payment assistance and lease-purchase assistance (the State Housing Initiative Program, or SHIP).
- $20 million to Habitat for Humanity,
- $16 million for additional retired judges to help relieve the foreclosure caseload
- $10 million in legal aid services for low- and middle-income homeowners facing foreclosure. Florida Realtors appreciate the Legislature’s commitment to provide affordable housing for Florida’s low-income families and the elderly. Effective when mortgage settlement money is deposited in Florida’s general revenue fund.
Tax loophole closed. Working with several legislators, language was included in different bills to close a tax loophole used by for-profit affordable housing builders to exploit the law. They accomplish this by forming non-profit subsidiaries primarily to pay lower property taxes.
Lawmakers to squatters: Jig’s up. Homes left unoccupied due to foreclosure have brought out all kinds of opportunists, including those seeking free rent in swanky digs under the veil of adverse possession. HB 903 amends Florida’s long-standing adverse possession law to curb these abuses. Effective July 1, 2013, persons claiming adverse possession must:
•pay all outstanding taxes and liens levied by the state, county or municipality within one year of claiming adverse possession;
•provide the county property appraiser with their contact information, the date when the adverse possession claim began, a legal description of the property, and the dates when outstanding taxes and liens were paid. Filing this return with the property appraiser does not give an adverse possessor an enforceable interest in the property.
Squatters who don’t file a return may be charged with trespassing. If an adverse possessor leases the property to a third party, they can be charged with theft.
Foreclosure reform. With buyer demand increasing and inventory levels at record lows, Foreclosing on a mortgage is a long process in Florida — about 853 days, more than twice the national average. That should begin to change with the passage of HB 87. The bill allows lenders to ask the court to justify why a final order hasn’t been entered, and gives condominium and homeowners associations the right to request the court move the process along where appropriate. Consumer interests are addressed in several provisions including:
- requiring lenders to prove they own the loan for a property before foreclosing on it;
- reducing the time lenders can seek deficiency judgments from five years to one year and
- providing protections for innocent parties who purchase a property without knowledge that a previous owner may have a claim to the property.
For the person whose home is erroneously foreclosed on, HB 87 provides for the recovery of damages (monetary, compensatory, punitive, statutory and consequential), injunctive relief and fees. Effective upon becoming law.