The 2018 Florida legislature’s regular session is finished for 2018. Several new laws affecting real estate investors have gone into effect and some additional constitutional amendments will be on the November ballot for the people to vote on. Here is a brief summary of what happened and my non-lawyerly understanding of what these laws entail.
CS/HB 935. This is a revision to Chapter 494, Florida Statutes regarding mortgage brokers and lenders. The law was amended to define the terms “hold himself or herself out to the public as being in the mortgage lending business.” The definition goes into great detail including describing advertising methods, business cards, solicitations in front of an audience, having a commercial office, etc. The law also gives an exemption to the licensing requirement if it involves a “business purpose loan.” In general if you are brokering or lending mortgage money on a 1-to-4 family property and the loan is to an owner occupant, then you need to be licensed. But definitely confirm with your own legal counsel whether or not you need a license before you start loaning out any money. This law has been signed by the Florida governor and goes into effect on July 1, 2019.
CS/HB 7087. This is a reduction of the business rent sales tax. As far as I know, Florida is the only state in the country that charges a sales tax on commercial tenants’ leases. This tax was reduced slightly already in 2017 and this law reduces the tax yet further. The new sales tax rate on commercial tenants’ leases will be 5.7% of the gross rent. This law has been signed by the Florida governor and goes into effect on January 1, 2019.
CS/HB 1011. This is an amendment to the homeowner’s insurance laws to provide clear disclosures (supposedly) that if a homeowner wants to have flood insurance that they must get that under a separate flood insurance policy issued by F.E.M.A. through the federal government. This law has been signed by the Florida governor and goes into effect on January 1, 2019.
CS/HB 631. This law combines much of the ejectment and unlawful detainer statutes. If you are involved in tax deed, foreclosure auctions, or similar situations, you should read through these changes thoroughly to grasp the changes regarding removing an unwanted occupant from your property. This law has been signed by the Florida governor and goes into effect on July 1, 2018.
CS/HB 1383. This law makes some significant changes to the whole tax deed process from application, to auction, to obtaining the surplus funds. It has not yet been signed by the governor (as of late March when I am writing this) but would go into effect on July 1, 2018.
Proposed Amendment #1. This would raise the Florida homestead tax exemption an additional $25,000 for properties valued at $125,000 or higher.
Proposed Amendment #2. This would make permanent the 10% cap on annual valuation increases on non-homestead properties (i.e. rental and commercial properties). The current cap is set to expire on January 1, 2019.
Proposed Amendment #5. This would require a 2/3 vote in both the Florida House and Florida Senate before any new or increased taxes and fees can be passed into law.
There were two bills that we were monitoring that ended up failing to pass. CS/HB 1077 regarding open and expired permits failed to pass. Also CS/HB 1400 regarding regulation of vacation rentals failed to pass.
You can read the full text of all these bills/laws at: https://www.flsenate.gov/ .
You can read the full text of the proposed November constitutional amendments at: http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/initiatives/ .
As always please consult your own legal counsel, if you have questions or concerns about any of these new laws.