After years of unsuccessfully fighting its way through the Legislature, the estoppel bill is now law.
Gov. Rick Scott Tuesday signed the measure (SB 398), which overhauls the legal process of estoppel letters. It goes into effect July 1.
“We are grateful for this compromise that will benefit Florida homeowners, associations, and taxpayers,” said Mark Anderson, Executive Director for Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies (CEOMC). “The Florida House, Senate, and Gov. Scott deserve credit for finally getting this across the finish line.”
Estoppel letters, or estoppel certificates, are an obscure part of some real estate closings.
They’re legal documents sent by a homeowners association, detailing any amount owed to the association. Usually, that’s unpaid fines or association fees left by owners who defaulted on their mortgage.
Title agents and Realtors have wanted to shift the cost of preparing such letters from themselves back to the associations. Anderson has said preparing estoppel letters takes time and research, costing anywhere from $15 to $400.
Former state Sen. Gwen Margolis, a Miami-Dade Democrat, disputed that story when she was in the Legislature, saying all homeowners associations “do is punch a button on a computer … It’s been a ripoff for a while.”
Among other things, the measure allows an association “to charge a maximum fee of $250 for the preparation and delivery of an estoppel certificate, if there are no delinquent amounts owed to the association (and) an additional maximum fee of $150, if there is a delinquent amount owed to the association,” the bill analysis says.
PR man and communications savant Kevin Cate, in an effort to get people to pay attention to the issue, once rebranded it as “smashing the Home Tax.”