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5 Changing Florida Laws That Will Impact Real Estate

Posted by Jane F. Bolin, Esq. | Nov 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Real estate laws are always changing, and Florida has its own set of regulations that residents, homebuyers, and sellers all need to know. Here are the 5 most important recent changes.

If there's one thing that's certain in real estate, it's that the laws are always changing. Florida realtors, homebuyers, sellers, and homeowners must stay up to date on legislative changes that impact transactions and the way properties must be managed. 

In 2019 and into 2020, several important changes were made that you need to be aware of. Here are five of the most significant real estate legislation updates in Florida.

1. Online notaries allowed

In June 2019, Florida passed a law that allows the use of online notaries and other digital, remote procedures for processing legal documents. Other states have adopted these methods as well, which makes it much easier and faster to notarize documents and complete transactions without requiring in-person meetings. The law went into effect on January 1, 2020.

2. More flexibility for open and expired permits

Another change that came at the end of 2019 relates to open and expired permits. Previously, an open or expired permit could delay closings or prevent real estate sales altogether. The new law allows Florida governments to close a permit six years after it is issued as long as there aren't any apparent safety hazards. In addition, local governments cannot penalize property owners if there is an open permit applied by a previous owner. This law went into effect on October 1, 2019.

3. Lower business rent tax

Effective January 1, 2020, the Florida state tax on commercial leases is 5.5%, which is a .2% reduction from 2018. This business rent tax reduction means Florida businesses will save over $65 million each year.

4. COVID-19-related legislation

In early 2020, the U.S. began to see an influx of coronavirus cases that led to widespread lockdowns and business closures. Workers started telecommuting to their jobs and brick-and-mortar stores closed temporarily. Soon after, many small businesses started closing permanently and millions of employees across industries were laid off.

There has been a lot of new legislation introduced on both federal and local levels to combat the effects of COVID-19. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided trillions of dollars in economic stimulus for the nation and created small business loan programs like the Payment Protection Program (PPP) and others. These programs have a big impact on many types of businesses and contractors, including realtors and the overall real estate industry.

One COVID-19-related change is an eviction ban, which limits evictions and foreclosures as an effort to help those hit hardest by the pandemic. However, Florida's governor recently allowed that ban to expire in Florida because the federal CDC eviction relief order is still in effect nationwide through the end of 2020.

Additionally, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) extended moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned evictions through at least the end of 2020. The moratorium applies to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgages for single-family homes only. Applicable homeowners cannot be evicted through December 31.

5. Realtor safety guidelines

Florida's surgeon general also put safety guidelines in place for realtors during the pandemic. Home and property transactions are still occurring regularly, so precautions need to be taken to ensure the safety of realtors, visitors, homebuyers, and sellers.

For example, virtual open houses are encouraged in Florida instead of in-person events, and they need to be coordinated properly among the broker, homeowner, and/or condo or homeowners' association.

Other recommendations for realty events include:

  • Ensuring that all spaces of the property are disinfected throughout transactions and visits
  • Encouraging the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks
  • Posting information about protocols and safety precautions you're taking
  • Answering any questions and holding meetings outside of the property when possible
  • Keeping doors and windows open while guests are browsing the property
  • Requiring social distancing practices
  • Installing hand sanitizing stations throughout the property
  • Restricting the number of visitors inside the property at the same time

Why work with a real estate attorney?

Whether you are a current homeowner or are in the process of buying or selling a home or business property, it's important to stay aware of changing regulations and laws related to real estate. To find expert legal assistance in Florida, contact the board-certified attorneys at PeytonBolin, with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa Bay, and Orlando. Our lawyers are committed to helping you through these uncertain times so you can make the right choices for your future. 

Schedule a phone consultation with our team today to get started.

About the Author

Jane F. Bolin, Esq.

Founding Member, Managing Partner


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