How many times have you had a rush closing that is being held up by the delivery of an estoppel, the Association is charging an astronomical fee to produce an estoppel, or you have a Seller/Buyer complain about advancing the funds for an estoppel prior to closing? Well . . . the landscape of estoppel requests and fees is changing. The Florida House of Representatives recently passed HB611 with the intention of expediting the receipt of estoppels, capping fees to produce the estoppel (with some limited exceptions), and requiring payment at closing (not in advance of closing with a few minor exceptions). Below is a snapshot of HB611:
• Reduce the time in which an association has to deliver the Estoppel Certificate to a Unit Owner or designee to 10 days (from 15 days) from the date of the written request;
• The Estoppel Certificate must be valid for 30 days;
• The Estoppel Certificate must contain specific language regarding all assessments and other moneys owed (including costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred) through a date that is 30 days after the date of the Estoppel Certificate;
• Require the association to waive any rights to collect any monies in excess of the amounts set forth on the Estoppel Certificate;
• Require the association to waive any claim (including a claim of lien against a unit) for any amounts owed to the association if the association received a written request for an Estoppel Certificate but failed to deliver the Estoppel Certificate in a timely manner;
• Allows an association (or its agent) the ability to charge for an Estoppel Certificate. However the Estoppel Certificate Fee cannot exceed $100 (with some exceptions – e.g., expedited delivery, if the unit owners delinquency in payment required the association to hire an attorney, additional estoppel certificates are required after 30 days, and Estoppel Certificate requests for multiple units); and
• If the Estoppel Certificate is in conjunction with the sale or refinancing of a unit, the estoppel fee shall be due and payable no earlier than the closing of the sale or refinance, and shall be paid from the closing settlement proceeds. If the closing does not occur within 60 days after the Estoppel Certificate is delivered the estoppel fee is the obligation of the unit owner and may be collected by the association only in the same manner as an assessment against the unit owner.
HB611 now must make its way to the Senate for consideration and hopefully a favorable vote. As always, if you have any questions concerning the foregoing, we urge you to consult with your real estate attorney.
Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC
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