As we approach the height of hurricane season, it’s a good time for property owners to brush up on their understanding of flood zones and how they impact flood insurance. Below are some resources and answers to frequently asked questions on flood zones: Continue Reading Understanding Flood Zones in Florida
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Unlike certain “unalienable rights” granted to citizens under the United States Constitution, property interests are traditionally understood to have been created by a number of independent sources such as statutes, ordinances, or contracts. The general concept of property itself is construed as the group of rights inhering in the citizen’s relation to the physical thing, such as the right to possess, use and dispose of it.
Modern courts, however, acknowledge that the traditional notion of property interests encompass a variety of other valuable interests, such as intangible and incorporeal rights (e.g., leases, easements, right-of-ways, and mortgages) or other uses which extend well beyond the historic norms of property to establish an entirely legitimate claim to certain additional land use entitlements as well.
What is an “Exaction”?
The term “exaction” is when a condition for development is imposed on a parcel of land which requires the developer to mitigate anticipated negative impacts of the development. An exaction may include some sort of mandatory dedication of real property for impact fee payments, sewer or water utility connection fees, or public use of land for a park, school, or transportation facility or expansion anticipated for certain related infrastructure improvements.
The Doctrine of “Unconstitutional Conditions”
In something of a rarity, an appellate court has written an opinion in favor of a property owner bringing a claim under The Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act.
In Ocean Concrete, Inc. v. Indian River County, Board of County Commissioners, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court order denying relief to a property owner under the Bert Harris Act. As the Fourth District explained, in order to obtain relief under the Bert Harris Act, a plaintiff has to show
a specific action of a governmental entity has inordinately burdened an existing use of real property or a vested right to a specific use of real property.”
Bert Harris Act in a Nutshell
In most cases, agreements between landlord and tenant are memorialized in writing that provides a specific procedure for both landlord and tenant default. However, not everyone hires an attorney to draft a lease. So what happens when the tenant stops paying the landlord and there is no written lease? The following is a summary of the process for evicting a commercial tenant and recovering money damages for past due rent.
No Written Lease = Tenancy at Will
In Florida, an unwritten lease is considered a tenancy at will. If rent is paid monthly, then the tenancy at will is regarded as a monthly lease. Either party can terminate a monthly tenancy at will by giving 15 days’ notice before the end of any monthly period.