Earlier this year, we blogged about various measures being taken by the Collier County Commission to raise revenue for various projects and improvements. These “bold steps” included (1) implementation of a 25% increase to the County’s tourist tax (from 4 to 5 cents per dollar); (2) presentation of a sales tax increase via ballot measure; and (3) creation of a stormwater utility.

The Collier County Commission reconvened in September 2018, after their customary summer break. September brought some surprises (e.g., postponement of the stormwater utility effort), and made clear that the Board once again has its hands full as it begins a new “season” and fiscal year. Below is an update on the status of these three important initiatives.

Bed Tax Increase

Continue Reading Update on Collier County’s “Bold Steps” to Raise Revenue in 2018

You have saved and are ready to build the house of your dreams. If you select the wrong contractor, however, it could quickly turn into a nightmare. There are plenty of great contractors in Southwest Florida but there are a few not so great. How do you know the difference? Below are five tips to help you with the contractor selection process: Continue Reading 5 Ways to Protect Yourself Before Selecting a Contractor

On December 20, 2017, I co-authored an article, Business Rent Tax Reduced Beginning January 1, 2018, that discussed the Florida Legislature’s decision to lower the Business Rent Tax (“BRT”) from 6.0 percent to 5.8 percent.

On March 23, 2018, Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature delivered another win for Florida’s business community with House Bill 7087. House Bill 7087 amends section 212.031 of the Florida Statutes to further reduce the BRT from 5.8 percent to 5.7 percent beginning on January 1, 2019.

Considering the impact on occupancy costs, any reduction in the BRT is welcome and those involved in commercial leasing will want to take note of this reduction when preparing leases that commence in 2019.

As with all tax matters, please consult with your tax professional. If you have answer questions regarding the Business Rent Tax reduction and its effects, please contact me at caleb.hinton@henlaw.com or by phone at 239-344-1125.

For most people, buying a home is the most significant purchase of their lives. If you are purchasing property together with another person, then one issue to consider is how you and the other parties (as the buyers) want to take title to the property. How do you want to own the property? The manner in which a purchaser takes title to property can have significant consequences depending on the situation whether that be the death of one of the owners or the souring of a personal or business relationship.

Three Ways to Own Property

Generally, title agents will ask you how you want to take title or will provide a form for you to fill out indicating how you want to take title. If you are buying property by yourself, then the options are straight-forward because as the buyer, you are going to take title as either “a single man” or “a single woman” or “a married man” or “a married woman.” However, what happens when a buyer is purchasing property with someone else and what are the ways buyers can take title jointly? More often than not, buyers purchasing property jointly take title one of three ways: tenants-in-common (“TIC”), joint tenants with full rights of survivorship (“JTWROS”), or tenant by the entireties (“TBE”). Other options to consider may be forming a corporation, limited liability company, or trust to take title, but those options are not being covered by this post.

Tenants in Common

Continue Reading I Am Buying a Home with Someone Else, How Should I Take Title?

Merriam-Webster’s on-line dictionary defines “ripe” in several ways. One example is “fully grown,” as in the case of ripe fruit. The Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th edition, on my credenza defines “ripeness” as:

[t]he circumstance existing when a case has reached, but has not passed, the point when the facts have developed sufficiently to permit an intelligent and useful decision to be made.”

That’s a lot of fruit in one bite.

According to a recent decision of Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in GSK Hollywood Development Group, LLC v. The City of Hollywood, Florida, in order to bring a claim under the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act, the claim must be ripe.

What Does “Ripe” Mean Under the Bert Harris Act?

Continue Reading Fruit Should be Ripe; Your Bert Harris Act Claim Must be Ripe, Too!

An interesting ruling came down this week in an Airbnb case stemming from tenants illegally offering apartments for short-term rentals in violation of their lease agreements in South Florida.

Background

Bay Parc Plaza Apartments filed suit in 2017 against Airbnb with multiple claims of trespass, tortious interference with a contract, and violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Airbnb attempted to have the case dismissed based on protections under the Communications Decency Act (CDA). Because the CDA protects operators of internet services from liability for content posted from third parties who use their services, Airbnb argued that short-term rental listings on their website posted by tenants within an apartment building qualified as third party content and Airbnb, therefore, is immune to suit for that content under the CDA.

Ruling

Continue Reading Does Free Speech Protect Your Right to Sublease in Florida?

Last year, I wrote an article warning homeowners’ associations (“HOAs”) that the enforceability of their covenants and restrictions (“Covenants”) may be affected by the Marketable Record Title Act (“MRTA”). In simple terms, MRTA can eliminate the effectiveness of recorded Covenants if they haven’t been preserved within 30 years from when the covenants and restrictions were recorded.

New Law Offers Relief to Some HOAs

In my prior article, I stated that merely amending or restating the covenants does not restart the 30-year clock, but that a statutory process must be followed.

The good news is that in 2018, the Florida legislature amended MRTA by the passage of House Bill 617, to provide that certain amendments will preserve the Covenants if they are recorded before the time the Covenants would have expired. The bad news is that the new law is not effective until October 1, 2018, and, further, the new law will not save any HOAs from having to go through the statutory revitalization process if their Covenants have already expired under the current law prior to October 1, 2018.

Simplified Procedures

Continue Reading It’s Now Easier to Preserve HOA Restrictions… for Some

Florida law currently caps taxes assessed on commercial and rental property, but that may end come January 1, 2019.

You might be thinking “why do I care because I rent my home or apartment and don’t own either commercial or rental property?” Consider this: if your landlord has to pay higher taxes, guess whose rent is going to increase to offset your landlord’s cost?

For more information, please see a recent article in the Business Observer by Kevin McQuaid, “Commercial landlords could face big tax hike.”

Summer is a busy season for moving in Florida. This time of year is a popular time for families to move because it follows the spring real estate season and because school is out, parents won’t have to deal with enrolling their children in a new school mid-year. Landlords should ensure that they are aware of and in compliance with Florida law prior to renting.

Before signing a rental agreement or lease, landlords are encouraged to seek legal counsel to ensure that their lease complies with Florida law and that they are aware of the laws governing the landlord tenant relationship.

Landlord’s Responsibilities

In Florida, landlords are responsible for maintaining the dwelling. At all times during tenancy, the landlord shall (1) comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes; (2) maintain the roofs; (3) doors; (4) floors; (5) steps; (6) porches; (7) exterior walls; (8) foundations; (9) and all other structural components in good repair. The landlord must also maintain the plumbing in reasonable working condition.

Continue Reading Florida Rentals: What is the Landlord’s Responsibility?