Photo of Michael Lehnert

Michael is an Associate in the firm’s Real Estate division. He handles real estate matters, including homeowners’ and condominium association governing documents, commercial and residential sales and leases, development, and survey matters. Michael is admitted to practice in all Florida state courts.

While in law school, Michael joined the UF Environmental Moot Court Team and the Pi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society. He also was enrolled in the Land Use and Environmental Law Certificate program, was a member of the Environmental and Land Use Law Society, a member of the John Marshall Bar Association, and served as Finance Chair of the 2015 annual Public Interest Environmental Conference.

Michael received book awards in Local Government Law and Finance, International Environmental Law, and the Environmental Law Capstone Colloquium. He made Dean’s list all six semesters and graduated with an Environmental and Land Use Law Certificate.

Michael graduated from Bishop Verot High School in 2008 and currently resides in his hometown of Cape Coral. When not working, he enjoys cross-training, reading, and relaxing outdoors.

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?

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.”

know the rulesBeginning July 1, 2017, Florida community associations will have to comply with more burdensome estoppel requirements.

The 2017 Florida legislature just recently passed a new law that will require associations to comply with a request for an estoppel certificate within 10 business days. If they fail to do so, they will forfeit their right to charge a fee for the preparation and delivery of the document.

Furthermore, the fee that an association may charge is now strictly regulated. The fee is capped at $250 if there are no delinquent amounts owed to the association for the applicable unit or parcel, or $400 if a delinquent amount is owed. However, associations may charge an additional $100 if an expedited request is made, and the association delivers the estoppel within three (3) business days after the request.

In addition to the changes to the timeframe and fees related estoppel certificate issuance, the new law will require associations to provide more information than previously required. Associations will have to provide, among other things, information about parking or garage spaces, any open violations noticed to the owner or mortgagee, and contact information for all insurance maintained by the association.

While the law appears strict on its face, the intent behind the law is to provide more uniformity to the estoppel process in order to help buyers and sellers expedite their closings.

If you or your association have any questions about this new law, please give me a call at 239- 344-1231 or email me at michael.lehnert@henlaw.com.

pexels-photo-388241The Cape Coral Building Department has had a rule on the books requiring owners of residential condominiums in Cape Coral to have a letter from their association before pulling a permit to do work in condominium common areas.

You might be thinking “I pulled a permit for something like that 3 months ago, and I didn’t have a letter. Did I miss something?” To answer your question, nope, you’re fine.

Although the rule is old, the Cape Coral Building Official recently announced that the Cape Coral Building Department will begin strictly enforcing this rule. This means Associations should expect to receive requests from unit owners (which they should be doing already), and unit owners need to make sure they have secured the approval of the Association before pulling permits for improvements that may be outside, or appear to be outside, of the unit.

Special thanks to Bill Johnson, Executive Director and CEO of the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association for the heads up on the Cape Coral Building Departments new stance on enforcement.

florida-1624651_640Have you ever wondered whether renting out your property using VRBO qualifies as a commercial use as opposed to a residential use? You’re not alone.

On one hand, earning income from rent, advertising for new tenants, managing and scheduling those tenants, and maintaining the property to comply with the regulations required to frequently rent out your property for short periods certainly sounds like a business.

On the other hand, it’s your residence, and the people paying you to stay in it are only using it to eat, sleep, and do other ordinary acts incident to living. They aren’t using your place to produce income for themselves.

While both sides seem to have a reasonable argument, a recent Florida appellate court decided that renting a home to someone who uses the home “for ordinary living purposes such as sleeping and eating” qualified as a residential use under that particular association’s governing documents. See, Santa Monica Beach Property Owners Association v. Acord, (Fla. App., 2017).

What is the Legal Scoop?

Continue Reading Renting Your Home Using VRBO is a Residential Use

Mortgage contractI find myself frequently having conversations with potential clients asking why they shouldn’t use a title company to handle the closing of their new home. Why spend more money to hire an attorney when a title company can close the deal for less? Excellent question.

Sure, a title company can create the documents necessary to close the deal. They can also generally guide the parties on some issues that might come up, such as what additional requirements must be met when the seller is considered a “foreign person” under FIRPTA.

Continue Reading Top 5 Reasons to Hire An Attorney When Buying A Home

reis_logo_footerAt this month’s REIS meeting, Dr. David Jones, Executive Professor of Economics and Finance at Florida Gulf Coast University, presented his take on how the Trump Administration will affect the U.S. economy.

Dr. Jones predicts that the economy will be on the rise through the end of 2018. He declined to offer a forecast beyond that mark because, as he light-heartedly informed REIS members, he was taught to only predict around one corner, not two.

The first corner in that analogy is the future of the U.S. economy during the first two years of the Trump Administration, while the second corner is how Trump’s potential desire to get reelected may cause him to change his stance on important economic issues.

After recognizing that some experts predict that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates 2-3 times in 2017, Dr. Jones predicted that interest rates will increase four times in 2017 and six times in 2018, ending in an interest rate of about 3%.

Finally, admitting that he is not an expert in stocks, Dr. Jones cautioned that with interest rates so low for so long the value of stocks may be artificially high and their true value currently unknown.

Thank you to Dr. Jones for his entertaining and highly informative presentation, and thank you to State Insurance Agency for sponsoring the event.

hacker-1944688_1280 - CopyThe news these days is rife with stories about hacking, leaks, and stolen confidential information, and no one seems to be immune to the threat, as demonstrated by the recent reports of hackings perpetrated on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

While those examples may seem far from home for most of us, there are stories throughout the country of hackers stealing the money people are intending to use to purchase their homes.

The ploy hackers often use is to hack someone’s email, which allows them to intercept wire instructions. They then modify the wire instructions in transit so that the money is eventually wired to the hacker’s account.

So how do you minimize the chance of losing the money you saved to buy your dream house?

Continue Reading 4 Steps to Minimize Your Susceptibility to Wire Fraud

Denny Grimes
Denny Grimes

As a Southwest Florida business professional, your business likely ebbs and flows with the local real estate market. When demand is freely flowing, business flourishes and you can concentrate your focus on accomplishing what is in front of you. However, when it ebbs, businesses often need to consider whether their current trajectory is optimal, or whether they should pivot in order to foster some new opportunities in a slightly different corner of the market.

While we all know the market is generally unpredictable, on February 22, Market Watch 2017 will have three local, well-respected real estate experts discussing the state of the Southwest Florida real estate market. Hearing what they have to say could be the key to putting you ahead of the curve in 2017.

In addition to Randy Thibault presenting, Denny Grimes will touch on whether now is the time to buy or the time to sell? In spite of generally positive news reporting many real estate markets across the country are experiencing a slow down or “shift” as it’s called and its effects are being felt in SW Florida. Denny will report why 2016 was an “off year” and will give his predictions for 2017.

Stan Stouder photo
Stan Stouder

Stan Stouder will talk about changes in the commercial real estate market, such as:

  • What are some national trends and how will they impact our local market?
  • Is the local apartment market overbuilt?
  • What do the changes in permitting mean?
  • What Was, What is and What’s Next for Commercial real estate in SWFL.

Having big data is of little value, but knowing what the data means is invaluable.  Stan knows and will be freely sharing that insight at this year Market Watch.

As a sponsor for the event, Henderson Franklin is anxious to hear what these three experts have to say and wants to make sure all Southwest Florida professionals, home buyers and sellers, and investors aware of this exciting opportunity! To register, click here.