Water Quality Issue

water-quality-issueHere’s an issue for homeowners in Florida to watch.

As you know, water is Florida’s lifeblood and efforts are being made to improve water management, water quality, and water supply which will help keep our economy stable and growing.

During the 2016 session, Sen. Charlie Dean (R-Inverness) and Rep. Matt Caldwell (R-Lehigh Acres) introduced bills enacting comprehensive statewide policies to help prevent a water crisis like the one California is struggling with.

Here’s what is included in both bills:

  • Creation of the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act. The goal would be to put programs in place that will protect and restore water flow and quality in the aquifer in order to improve conditions at “outstanding Florida Springs.”
  • Creation of a set of statewide standards that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), in cooperation with water management districts and other regional water supply authorities, should operate by when it comes to collecting and analyzing water supply and quality. This will ensure reliable and valid data and testing results
  • Establishment of water flow levels for the state’s natural springs. The DEP will oversee pollution control measures for Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee Estuary and the St. Lucie River and Estuary.

Consumer Issue regarding estoppel certificates

Estoppel-Postcard_FrontConsumer Issue

When you’re selling or refinancing your home, if you’re part of a condo association or a homeowners’ association, you need to provide the buyer or lender with something called an “estoppel certificate”. That is a statement of your financial status with the association: Are you current on your association dues? Are there any liens on your home? Since buyers and lenders don’t want to be surprised, providing them with an estoppel certificate is reasonable and a good business practice.

Florida law does allow condo and homeowner associations to charge a “reasonable” fee to prepare one of these estoppel certificates. The issue is what exactly is “reasonable”.

Condo and homeowner associations are required by law to maintain current records of any assessments or liens on the properties they oversee. So the work required to put together an estoppel certificate is fairly minimal. Many associations charge a reasonable fee – $50 or $100 – to provide the certificate. Others, however, have turned this into a revenue stream, charging over $1,000 in some cases to provide a simple piece of paper.

Well, during the 2015 session, Rep. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and Rep. John Wood (R-Winter Haven) have introduced bills to cap the amount charged by condo and homeowner associations. They’re looking to reintroduce that bill in the 2016 session. The pertinent facts are:

• $200 cap on fees for any homeowner who is not delinquent on paying association dues and fees;

• Up to an additional $200 if the homeowner is delinquent; and

• Up to $100 for an expedited certificate.

Plus, the bill would require associations to provide the estoppel certificate within 10 days, and have the certificate be valid for 30 days.

On the one hand, this seems like a no-brainer to ensure that consumers aren’t being overcharged. $1,000 just to prepare a piece of paper, with information the association already has, does seem like a stretch. On the other hand, there are people who wonder if this isn’t just another example of government intervention and regulation into private businesses. And of course, there are people who think that the bill doesn’t go far enough: even $200 cap seems too high for them.

Sadowski Housing Trust Monies to Create 27,000 jobs in Florida

The 2014 Florida legislative session is coming to a close and lawmakers are busy preparing the 2014-2015 fiscal budget. This could be the first time in many years that Florida has the opportunity to save the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund! The Florida Senate budget bill has allocated all $226.13M of the funds to be earmarked for affordable housing (the original purpose of the funds), while the Florida House has only earmarked $89.3M of these funds to rightfully return to Florida’s local communities. …Read More

Bill delaying higher flood insurance rates could become law by year’s end

Legislation that sent flood insurance premiums skyrocketing for some waterfront homes and is chilling part of the local real estate market will be reformed by the end of the year, an author of the law said Nov. 9. 

Homeowners and Realtors have been calling for relief from the stiff rate increases, organizing rallies across the nation, including last month in Tampa Bay, to protest rates that have increased by 600 percent in some cases. …Read More

Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi File an Amicus Brief To Support Mississippi’s Lawsuit Against FEMA

Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi today announced that Florida has filed an amicus brief supporting Mississippi’s lawsuit against the federal government’s unfair National Flood Insurance Program’s rate hike. …Read More

Bipartisan Deal Reached to Delay Flood Insurance Premium Hikes: Waters

Key House and Senate members have reached a bipartisan deal to delay changes to the federal flood insurance program that are raising premiums for many homeowners. The bill would require regulators to address affordability of the coverage before implementing rate hikes.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, announced the bipartisan legislative fix for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that she said will assure that “changes are implemented affordably.” …Read More


Bilirakis bill calls for longer phase-in and caps on flood insurance rate hikes

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis has introduced legislation to phase in flood insurance rate increases over a longer period and set a cap on annual premium increases.

Bilirakis, a Republican representing Pasco and parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, was among many original supporters of the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 who have done an about-face after seeing how the law has triggered large rate increases in Tampa Bay in particular.

His bill would phase in rate increases over 10 years and allow homeowners to pay premiums on a monthly basis instead of an annual lump sum. …Read More


Florida supports Mississippi suit seeking to ward off flood insurance rate hikes

In a bid to stave off big flood insurance rate increases, Florida officials are supporting a lawsuit filed by Mississippi that challenges the recent overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program.

“This unfair rate hike could devastate Florida’s real estate market and homeowners,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement Thursday announcing his support.

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Maybe Florida should take care of its own flood insurance

Let’s start with the numbers:

Florida residents paid $3.60 in premiums for every $1 in claims received from the National Flood Insurance Program from 1978 through 2008.

This wasn’t the highest ratio in the nation, but it was significant considering Florida makes up nearly 40 percent of all NFIP policies.

By comparison, residents in Alabama paid 40 cents for every dollar in claims. Louisiana paid 26 cents and Mississippi paid 20 cents.

Now let’s consider the fallout:

Florida’s reward for paying significantly more than it received in flood insurance rates for the past three decades is not, as you might expect, lower bills.

Instead, bills are going up. Way up. In some instances, rates will increase 20 percent annually. In cases of homes sold in high-flood areas, bills could immediately skyrocket by 500 percent or more.

Finally, let’s ask a question:

Why should Florida remain in the NFIP? 

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What Does the Government Shutdown Mean for REALTORS®?

Congress has failed to approve a Continuing Resolution (CR) providing funding for most government operations. Therefore, spending authority for most of the government expired at midnight on Sept. 30, 2013. Until legislation providing for funding is signed into law, many offices and programs of the federal government are now shut down. This means many, but not all, government programs, including some that impact federal housing and mortgage programs, have been suspended or slowed due to the lapse in government funding. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires each agency to have contingency plans in place. The information below is based on NAR staff review of agency contingency plans for the current shutdown and past experience with previous shutdowns and near-shutdowns. …Read More