WE need for all homeowners to
contact their representatives and oppose this bill now!!!!!!
Let the fun begin. As expected, Rep. John Wood (R-Winter Haven) has just filed the House version of the Estoppel legislation, House Bill 203. While I am in the process of reviewing the legislation as filed, it does appear to be the most recent Senate version of the 2015 Estoppel legislation (Senate Bill 736), as amended prior to its Senate passage. A few of the more problematic highlights, as well as stated “Concerns” from last year, include:
1. Fee Caps:
A. $200 cap for standard estoppels.
B. $100 cap for expedited estoppels. And
C. $200 cap for delinquent estoppels.
D. CONCERN: Fee Caps are arbitrary and unnecessary.
E. CONCERN: These caps were NOT agreed to by Realtors or management companies. Realtors wanted a hard $100 cap regardless of how many different amounts were discussed or considered.
F. CONCERN: Once agreed to, fee caps become an academic matter that place fees on a downward trajectory. Removing a statutory cap, once established, is politically difficult.
2. CPI Adjustor for Estoppel Fee Cap.
A. This provision was in the final amended version of the bill from last year. We were able to get some accommodation to address the concern that a cap would not keep pace with inflation, etc.
B. This provision allows adjustments to the Estoppel fees every three years “equal to the annual increases for that 3-year period in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers, US City Average, all items”.
C. This could somewhat mitigate the issue of fee caps over time, assuming no other attempts are made to REDUCE the statutory cap amount, whatever that amount would be.
3. 10-Day Requirement:
A. There is a requirement to provide an Estoppel within 10 business days by mail, hand delivery or electronic means.
i. CONCERN: As with last year, however, there is no delineation of when the ’10 day clock’ begins or ends.
ii. CONCERN: From testimony offered in committee last Session, this provision creates the concern of increased liability for Associations and their Management Companies by allowing a simple claim by a prospective Buyer or their Agent that an Estoppel was not provided within the statutory 10-day period. And by virtue of that claim of noncompliance, the Association forfeits its right to be paid for the Estoppel, as well as payment of any assessments/fees that were due on the unit for which the Estoppel was requested.
4. Pay at Closing:
A. Payment for an Estoppel must be paid at Closing instead of when the service is rendered.
i. CONCERN: This will force Associations and/or Management Companies to pursue payment for their service from a Real Estate transaction to which they are not invited and have no relationship.
ii. CONCERN: No other service provided within a real estate transaction must be paid at Closing.
iii. CONCERN: Self-managed communities are disproportionately impacted by this provision.
5. When a Closing does not occur, the remedy for payment within the legislation is for the Association and their Management Company to collect the Estoppel fee as an assessment against the unit.
A. CONCERN: This will force Associations and their Management Companies to pursue payment from a unit owner, who more often than not (and in south Florida it was identified as 60% of the time), is already delinquent on their mortgage, their fees and assessments. In other words, payment will not be made in many, if not most cases, when a Closing does not occur.
B. CONCERN: This provision is disproportionately harmful to self-managed Associations who, according to many who testified last Session, including Roger Kesselbach, will have to raise their fees to absorb these costs.
C. CONCERN: A statutory refund remedy already exists for those who have paid for an Estoppel and a Closing does not occur. A refund must be provided when it is requested. As with last year, no such remedy exists for those who have provided the Estoppel under the provisions if this bill.