Here's What Florida Realtors Is Watching During the 2023 Session
Florida Realtors serves as the voice of real estate in Florida. We provide programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to more than 238,000 members in 51 boards/associations. Our mission is to advance Florida's real estate industry by shaping public policy on real property issues. We're in the state Capitol watching out for Realtors and property owners' interests — on everything from affordable housing to rising property insurance costs.
Here are the issues we're closely watching during the 2023 Florida legislative session:
Florida continues to face an affordable housing crisis as more people move to the state for its comfortable climate and lower taxes. This growth and a lack of adequate housing inventory make it difficult for many Floridians to put a roof over their heads. The state’s efforts to address the situation have kept things from worsening, but a more aggressive and sustained strategy is needed for Floridians to find true housing relief.
Thankfully, the Florida Legislature introduced and passed SB 102, comprehensive affordable housing legislation that expands the newly created and successful Hometown Heroes Housing Program, builds on existing state housing programs, accelerates the development of new affordable rental units, and incentivizes multifamily apartment owners to reduce rent costs on existing units.
To help address Florida’s considerable affordable housing needs, Florida Realtors®:
- Congratulates the Florida Legislature on SB 102 being signed into law on March 29, 2023.
- This historic legislation adds $100 million to the successful Hometown Heroes Housing Program (down payment assistance for Florida workers), codifies the program in law and bases program eligibility on income level rather than occupation.
- It also allocates more than $500 million during the 2023/24 fiscal year for the SHIP and SAIL programs that allow Floridians to find affordable rental units and achieve the dream of homeownership.
- Lastly, it incentivizes developers and multifamily building owners to create more affordable housing units.
Rent Control and Landlord Tenant Law
Rent control isn’t a new concept. It’s been tried in other cities, and the results end up the same — the local housing pipeline is disrupted as developers look for more stable areas to build their units. This eventually leads to less available housing overall and negatively impacts the local economy.
Despite the harmful consequences of rent control, some local governments continue trying to circumvent existing Florida law by passing ordinances to implement it. Many of these local governments are also passing other tenant-related ordinances that cause similar disruptions in the housing market, even though many of these items are already law.
To help protect affordable housing development in Florida and ensure that newly enacted affordable housing policies have a chance to work, Florida Realtors®:
- Congratulates the Florida Legislature on SB 102 being signed into law, which preempts rent control to the state.
- Asks lawmakers to support HB 1417 and SB 1586, which protect Landlord Tenant Law in Chapter 83 of Florida Statutes by preempting local governments from passing burdensome regulations outside of state law.
Supporting these preemptions will allow long-term affordable housing strategies to take root, leading to more units being built successfully and more competition that drives rent down.
Water Quality and Environmental Funding
Our water bodies, water ways, springs and other natural wonders are the foundation of our communities and must be protected if Florida wants to remain one of the fastest growing and successful states in the nation. Florida Realtors® will continue to advocate for Florida’s natural resources and a pristine environment. We will also encourage all stakeholders, including the state of Florida, to do their part to help solve environmental problems.
To help preserve Florida’s water bodies and other natural wonders, Florida Realtors® is asking lawmakers to:
- Continue to allocate state funding to help preserve the Everglades, protect Florida’s springs, renourish Florida’s beaches and provide support for other related water quality projects.
- Continue to support legislation and funding that address the escalating problem of rising sea levels in Florida’s coastal communities such as the Resilient Florida Grant Program.
- Continue to support legislative and funding efforts to reduce the negative impact of blue green algae on Florida’s coastlines including the wastewater grant program.
- Search for holistic ways to mitigate the impact of failing septic systems on water quality without negatively impacting private property rights or the complex nature of real estate transactions.
Rising Property Insurance Costs
Florida Realtors® applauds the Florida Legislature for taking unprecedented steps during the 2021 Legislative Session, May 2022 Special Session and December 2022 Special Session to stabilize Florida’s deteriorating property insurance market. Among other reforms supported by Florida Realtors®, lawmakers eliminated the one-way attorney fee and the Assignment of Benefits provisions that have been major contributors to rising premiums and a lack of affordable options.
Florida Realtors® understands that comprehensive property insurance reform such as this takes time to produce relief for policyholders. While the state waits for insurers and reinsurers to enter back into the market, Florida Realtors® asks that lawmakers:
- Continue to monitor the effectiveness of these reforms to ensure they are attracting insurance capital back to Florida as quickly as possible.
- Explore additional remedies that may be able to speed up this process.
- Continue looking for additional solutions that can provide short-term relief to policyholders.
Realtor License Plate
Realtors are an essential part of the process of buying and selling property. Many Realtors also perform a host of other important duties such as property management, appraisals, real estate education, community development and much more. Florida Realtors® asks that lawmakers:
- Vote YES on House Bill 675 and Senate Bill 1254 which would create a specialty Realtor license plate that would give members of the profession and other interested Floridians a visible way to demonstrate their passion for the real estate industry and their commitment to their communities.
- Proceeds of license plate sales would go to programs that support homeownership in Florida.
During the May 2022 Special Session, lawmakers passed important reforms designed to increase the safety of condominium buildings. Included in these reforms are measures that require milestone inspections in every county and a structural integrity reserve study that determines the reserves condominium associations must maintain for essential building repair and maintenance. Florida Realtors® encourages lawmakers to:
- Vote YES on Senate Bill 154, which clarifies the previous reforms and ensures that prospective purchasers are better informed about the building’s physical and financial condition.
- The bill also ensures that seller disclosure of the milestone inspections and structural integrity reserve studies match the existing disclosure requirements for other governing documents.
Private Property Rights
Being able to rent your home is a fundamental right of private property owners. Vacation rental units have also become a critical part of Florida’s successful tourism-based economy, producing billions of dollars of economic activity each year. Despite this, many local governments continue to enact new, overly burdensome ordinances designed to discourage property owners from exercising their right to rent their property. Florida Realtors® encourages state lawmakers to:
- Support legislation that creates a statewide, uniform system of regulations for vacation rentals and gives local governments the authority to pass ordinances related to residential properties as long as they apply to all residential properties.
Business Rent Tax
Florida Realtors® is grateful for the support of the 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 Florida Legislatures, which worked to lower the state sales tax rate on commercial space. Because of their efforts, the state sales tax rate on business rent is estimated to drop to 2% in 2024. Lowering the business rent tax further will provide Florida businesses with the capital to expand, hire more employees, improve benefits, raise salaries, or invest in their business in other ways. Florida Realtors® asks state lawmakers to:
- Continue to look for new ways to further reduce this burdensome tax at both the state and local levels.
Stop frivolous lawsuits against real estate appraisers
Real estate appraisers have been faced with frivolous lawsuits by overly litigious law firms alleging defects in appraisals performed for mortgage transactions originated during the 2005-2008 “real estate bubble” that have gone into default. Under current law, the “Discovery Rule” results in an almost infinite statute of limitations for claims against appraisers because the time for filing a suit does not commence until the party filing the claim discovers, or should have discovered, the alleged defect in the appraisal. Because some of these appraisals were performed many years ago, the appraiser does not have the ability to adequately defend themselves.
- To prevent these types of frivolous lawsuits, Florida Realtors® asks lawmakers to vote YES on House Bill 213 and Senate Bill 398 to establish a time limit on when a civil suit can be brought against a real estate appraiser.
Reduce Unnecessary Lawsuits
The current laws in Florida regarding telephone marketing practices are out of sync with federal law, creating situations where businesses and real estate brokerages are being caught up in class action lawsuits even though they are following state law.
- To help avoid these unwarranted lawsuits, Florida Realtors asks lawmakers to vote YES on House Bill 761 and Senate Bill 1308 to align Florida and federal telephonic marketing laws to keep innocent businesses out of the crosshairs of predatory law firms.
Prevent Harmful Ordinances
Local governments have the right to enact regulations that protect and improve the communities within their jurisdiction. However, the negative impacts of these regulations on local businesses are not always considered or properly evaluated.
- To give businesses more tools to fight back against harmful regulations, Florida Realtors asks lawmakers to vote YES on Senate Bill 170 which would make local governments show the impact of a new ordinance on businesses and suspend enforcement of an ordinance that is being challenged in court.