April 28, 2017 was a big day to celebrate for Florida Realtors and home sellers as it marked the passage of HB 483/SB 398, a bill that limits the fees charged by community association management companies for estoppel certificates.
When buying a property that is managed by a community association, it is considered a must that the buyers know whether or not the seller is current in their dues, fees and assessments. This information is disclosed by the community association management company to the closing agent in the form of an estoppel certificate. More often than not, sellers don’t know how much they would need to pay for the estoppel certificate until they receive the closing documents.
Prior to HB 483/SB 398, Florida law allowed association management companies to charge a “reasonable” fee for the preparation of an estoppel certificate as they deemed necessary. However, without specifying how “reasonable” the fees should be, there were companies using the vagueness of the term to charge exorbitant fees of over $1,000 to prepare this document. There was instance that a company that charged the home seller an estoppel certificate fee of $1,610 for his home that was sold for $190,000.
With the passage of HB 483/SB 398 there will now be set fees that these community association management companies are able to charge for issuance of estoppel certificates. It also requires that the certificates be valid for 30 days and that a standard estoppel certificate form must be used throughout the state to ensure that same information is provided to each property owner.
Here are the allowed Estoppel Certificate Fees according to HB 483/SB 398:
- A fee of $250 is allowed for property owners who are current in their dues, fees, and assessments.
- An additional $100 can be charged in order to expedite the processing of estoppel certificates (delivered within 3 business days)
- An additional $150 can be charged for property owners who are delinquent in their current in their dues, fees, and assessments.
This means if a property owner is delinquent in his dues, fees, and assessments, and he wants to expedite the processing of the estoppel certificate, the maximum he can be charged is $500.
This has been a multi-year effort by Florida Realtors. Carrie O’Rourke, vice president of public policy for Florida Realtors, shares “After several years of educating legislators and building support in both legislative chambers on the issue of estoppel certificate fees, we brought home a huge victory for home sellers. Congratulations to all of our members who have contributed their time and energy trying to fix this problem.”
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Naples) sponsored HB 483 and Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) sponsored SB 398.
This bill is now headed to Gov. Scott for his signature and once signed into law, it is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2017.