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On November 20, 2023, the Fort Myers City Council took a significant step toward amending the city’s Land Development Code. The proposed changes, presented during the council’s meeting, cover a wide range of issues—from new zoning categories to food truck regulations.

Below are a few key highlights and potential implications of these proposed revisions.

Continue Reading Fort Myers Land Development Code: Proposed Changes and Their Impact
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rental property

Florida’s vibrant real estate market and thriving tourism industry make it an attractive destination for property investors and landlords. However, with the allure of sandy beaches and sunny days comes a unique set of challenges for those in the rental business. From unpredictable weather to evolving legal regulations, Florida landlords must be well-prepared to handle a range of issues to ensure a smooth and successful rental experience. This article will focus on four challenges that confront landlords and guidance to manage them.

Tenant Screening

Securing reliable tenants is the cornerstone of successful property management. Florida’s diverse population and transient nature can make thorough tenant screening even more crucial. Implement rigorous tenant screening processes that include criminal background checks, credit history analysis, and rental history verification. This can help landlords avoid potential issues such as unpaid rent and property damage.

Property Maintenance and Weather Woes

Continue Reading Navigating the Sunshine State’s Rental Landscape: Tips for Florida Landlords
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In the field of urban and regional planning, the passing of legislative bills can significantly influence how local governments shape the future development of their communities. A recent example is CS/CS/SB 540, signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis and effective July 1, 2023. This bill introduces several substantial changes to the existing regulatory framework for land development and comprehensive plans in Florida.


CS/CS/SB 540 contains several notable changes that have the potential to reshape the dynamics of comprehensive plans, development orders, and land development regulations. Below is a breakdown of the significant aspects of the bill:

  1. Attorney Fees and Costs in Comprehensive Plan Challenges. One of the most important changes in the bill is the provision that allows the prevailing party in “administrative challenges” to adopt comprehensive plans and plan amendments, including small-scale amendments, to recover attorney fees and costs. Although the legislature in 2019 added a similar prevailing party provision for consistency challenges involving development orders, this provision introduces a significant shift in the incentives and strategies of parties involved in plan adoption challenges.
  2. Exemption of Land Development Regulations for Florida College System Institutions. SB 540 revises Section 163.3202, Fla. Stat., concerning land development regulations, to specify that regulations related to development characteristics other than use, intensity, or density of use do not apply to institutions within the Florida College System. This provision recognizes the unique role and needs of these institutions within the broader context of land development.
  3. Clarification of Scope in Development Order Challenges. Addressing an ongoing split among Florida district courts of appeal, the bill amends Section 163.3215, Fla. Stat. to clarify the scope of consistency challenges to local government decisions regarding development orders. It establishes that a development order can only be challenged if it materially alters the property’s use, density, or intensity in a manner inconsistent with the comprehensive plan. This clarification seeks to standardize the interpretation of development order challenges across different jurisdictions, hopefully leading  to more predictable outcomes in consistency challenges.

Current Landscape: Comprehensive Plans and Development Orders

Continue Reading Understanding the Impact of SB 540 Local Government Comprehensive Plan Changes
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On May 25, 2023, the United States Supreme Court decided Sackett v. EPA, a case concerning the outer limits of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). The CWA grants the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) authority to regulate water quality in the Nation’s rivers, lakes and streams. But discerning the precise boundaries of the CWA has led to conflicts between private property rights and the reach of the federal government.

The Sackett case exemplifies this tension, and the high court’s decision in this case greatly constrained the authority of the EPA with respect to wetland regulation. The decision of the Court, while rooted in fairly technical legal analysis, greatly reduces Federal control over private property while providing property owners and developers with more autonomy in how they utilize their property. For property owners and developers within the State of Florida, this decision may result in properties that were formerly subject to federal regulatory controls to now being cleared for development. 

Factual Background

Continue Reading From Murky Waters to Clear Paths: Why <em>Sackett v. EPA</em> Matters for Wetland Development
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When buying or selling a property in Florida, it is essential to ensure that the title is clear and free of any issues affecting ownership rights. Unfortunately, title issues can arise even after a property has been purchased, leading to significant legal problems. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to understand the legal remedies available.

First, it is important to understand what a title issue is. A title issue is any problem with the ownership or transfer of a property’s title. This can include errors or omissions in the property’s legal description, outstanding liens or encumbrances, claims against the property by a third party or issues with the previous transfer of the property’s ownership.

Continue Reading From Quiet Title Action to Breach of Warranty: Florida’s Legal Remedies for Title Issues
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Live Local

Florida has seen tremendous growth and development over the past decade. With that growth has come a lot of changes in the economy and a large spike in population. This has created a thriving real estate market for homebuyers, with the demand for housing rising greatly. But there is one major thing we have learned throughout recent years: there is a need for more affordable and workforce housing.

To promote more affordable and workforce housing, Governor Ron Desantis signed SB 102 into law. SB 102, now known as the Live Local Act, has significantly impacted zoning laws and limited local government’s power to regulate affordable housing.

This new law makes it easier for affordable housing projects to get approved quickly without going through a long public hearing process to change a property’s zoning. It also allows for affordable housing to be built in areas that are currently zoned for commercial or industrial use. The affordable housing project can be approved quickly and easily, if it meets certain requirements. This law will go into effect on July 1st, 2023. Overall, SB 102 will help make it easier to build affordable housing in your community.

Below is a more detailed explanation of how the Live Local Act will affect the local approval and development of affordable and workforce housing.

What is “Affordable” Housing?

Continue Reading Live Local Act and Its Major Effects on Development Approvals for Affordable Housing
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Navigating Landlord Tenant Disputes in Florida: 5 Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

As a landlord, you’ve probably heard horror stories about tenants who refuse to pay rent, damage your property, or violate the terms of the lease agreement. These disputes can quickly escalate into costly lawsuits, leaving both parties frustrated and stressed. As a landlord, it’s crucial to be aware of the common disputes that can arise with tenants and take steps to prevent them from occurring. 

This post will address the most common landlord/tenant disputes and provide tips on how landlords can avoid unnecessary lawsuits. By understanding your rights and responsibilities as a landlord, you can maintain a positive relationship with your tenants and avoid legal battles that can be both costly and time-consuming.

Security Deposits

One of the most common disputes between landlords and tenants in Florida is related to security deposits. In Florida, landlords have specific responsibilities when returning a tenant’s security deposit. The landlord is required to return the security deposit within 15 days after the termination of the lease.

If the landlord plans to withhold part or all of the deposit to cover unpaid rent or damages to the property, they must provide a written notice within 30 days to the tenant explaining why the deposit is being withheld. If the landlord fails to return the deposit or provide a written notice, the tenant may be entitled to damages up to three times the amount of the deposit, plus attorney fees. Therefore, landlords must understand their responsibilities and follow the proper procedures to avoid unnecessary legal disputes.

Rent Increases

Continue Reading Navigating Landlord Tenant Disputes in Florida: 5 Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them
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On April 13, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law SB 360, a bill to make significant changes to the state’s construction defect claims process. The new law, which goes into effect immediately, should provide some additional protections  to those in the construction industry by shorting the time period for bringing design and construction defect claims, clarifying the application of these time periods on multi-building projects, and adding  a “materiality” requirement to statutory claims for violation of Florida’s Building Code according to Fla. Stat. § 554.84.

How does this impact Florida Contractors?

Continue Reading Florida’s New Legislation Provides More Protection for Contractors and Design Professionals
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Was your residential dwelling rendered uninhabitable by Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole? You may be eligible for a partial refund of your 2022 property taxes.

On December 16, 2022, section 197.3181, Fl. Stat., was signed into law, which provides for a prorated refund of ad valorem taxes for residents whose homes were impacted by Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole. To qualify for the partial refund, the applicant’s property must have been determined “uninhabitable” due to Hurricane Ian or Hurricane Nicole, which means there was a loss of use and occupancy of a residential improvement which resulted from damage to or destruction of the residential improvement, or from a condition that compromises the structural integrity of the residential improvement.

Continue Reading April 3, 2023 is the Deadline to Apply for a Partial Property Tax Refund