On March 27, 2020, citing a “great risk” to Florida residents relating to external travelers bringing COVD-19 virus to Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order No. 20-87. The order places severe, but temporary, restrictions on vacation rentals throughout Florida.

By its terms, the duration of the Governor’s order was 14 days, and the temporary restrictions would have expired on Friday, April 10th. However, both Lee County and Governor DeSantis took steps late afternoon on Friday the 10th to extend the prohibition through the end of April 2020 – with Lee County adopting Lee County Emergency Order 20-01, and Gov. DeSantis signing Executive Order 20-103. The substance of both the state and county versions of these orders is virtually identical, and both extend the rental restrictions from April 10th “until April 30, 2020” with the ability to extend by subsequent order(s).

Violations could result in jail time

Under the order, “all parties engaged in rental of vacation rental properties” (as defined in Chapter 509, Florida Statutes) must “suspend operations”. Additionally, new reservations, new bookings, and new guest check-ins are prohibited under the Governor’s order. Violation of the order is a second-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail.

Are there any exemptions? What if I rent my home to a healthcare worker?


Continue Reading COVID-19: Lee County and Florida Governor extend prohibition on vacation rentals until April 30, 2020

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 epidemic is affecting virtually every sector in some way, shape, or form. The real estate sector is no exception. Although the modern real estate world has slowly moved away from face-to-face deals, there are still aspects of real estate that require some type of face-to-face contact.

How do we keep moving forward while remaining safe and healthy?

With most banks, law firms, and offices closing up to the general public, you may be wondering how to fulfill the time constraints of your contract and how a deal can be closed. In our downtown Fort Myers office, we have set-up a drive-thru conference room for signings.

Discuss the best options and next steps with your real estate attorney. Depending on the contents of your contract and individual situation, a contract extension may be the best option. However, it may also be feasible to continue to closing using the proper resources.

Force majeure clauses


Continue Reading COVID-19 Impact on Real Estate Contracts and Closings

Oil, gas, and mineral (“OGM”) rights are not uncommon, especially in Collier County and certain areas of Lee County. Unfortunately, outdated OGM leases and rights reservations can often cause a headache for buyers when these issues show up on title. Below are some tips for combating OGM rights issues on your property.

Before the contract is signed

Sometimes, if a seller knows there may be OGM rights on the property, there will be provisions in the contract to account for those rights. Be wary of provisions that limit seller’s obligation to cure issues related to OGM rights. For example, some contracts may provide that seller has an obligation to cure a title defect related to OGM rights only if there is a right of entry. Even if there is no right of entry, an OGM right may still create a cloud on title that would make buyers uncomfortable.

If you cannot reach an agreement for seller to cure the OGM issues, make sure to have a long due diligence period and try to tackle OGM issues early. OGM issues are complex, and removing them from title can be cumbersome.

After the contract is signed


Continue Reading Options for Commercial Property Owners When Handling Oil, Gas & Mineral Rights

Under Florida law, a landlord has a statutory right to demand double rent from a tenant when the tenant refuses or fails to give up possession of leased premises at the end of the lease term. § 83.06(1), Florida Statutes. When a tenant holds over past the expiration of the lease, then the tenancy becomes a tenancy at sufferance and the tenant is considered a holdover tenant. However, a landlord is not automatically entitled to double rent from a holdover tenant until the landlord demands double rent from the tenant, even if the lease provides for it. If landlord does not demand upon tenant, then the tenant is only required to continue paying the original rental rate.

Failure to Vacate

These rules were illustrated in Lincoln Oldsmobile, Inc. v. Branch, 574 So.2d 1111 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990) (“Lincoln”). In Lincoln, the tenant, Bob Lincoln, Inc., failed to vacate property owned by landlord, William Branch and Roger Dean (collectively, “Branch”), after Branch refused to grant Lincoln a short lease extension to allow for construction of Lincoln’s new facility.


Continue Reading How/When Can I Get Double Rent From My Commercial Tenant?

More often than not, a commercial landlord will ask for a personal guaranty from a prospective tenant when negotiating a lease. A personal guaranty gives the landlord the ability to seek from the guarantor any unpaid rent in addition to the business entity that is renting the space. Many times, the guarantor is the owner of the commercial entity seeking to lease the commercial space and is providing a personal guaranty in his/her individual capacity.

Extensions and Renewals


Continue Reading When Should I Ask for a Personal Guaranty for a Commercial Lease?

Given its status as a tourist destination, and the proliferation of online rental platforms, it would seem that Collier County is the perfect place for Airbnb and similar services to thrive. While these platforms continue to grow, both the City of Naples and Collier County have taken the position that daily, weekly, and/or monthly rentals of single-family homes (also known as vacation rentals, short-term rentals, transient rentals, and/or transient occupancy) are generally prohibited.

Home rentals have been popular in Florida for decades. Prior to the age of Airbnb (which launched in 2008), short-term rentals were allowed to exist “off the radar” with little to no zoning-based enforcement. Successive single-family rentals were not particularly problematic in single-family zoning districts before the internet. As technology continues to evolve, renters, neighbors, elected officials, and code enforcement have easy access to vacation rental information.

In 2011, amendments to state law preempted local governments from adopting ordinances relating to the “use” and “occupancy” of short-term rentals. In 2014, this preemption was removed and replaced with a preemption on local regulation of “duration” and “frequency” of short-term rentals. The remainder of this post will explain the current status of regulation of short-term rentals of single-family homes in the City of Naples and in unincorporated Collier County.

City of Naples Short Term Rentals


Continue Reading Are Short-Term Rentals Allowed in Collier County?

Commercial space is rarely “walk-in ready” for the tenant. As a result, landlords and tenants must negotiate for leasehold improvements in order for the leasing transaction to move forward. This can impact new leases, amendments or renewals of existing leases.

Below are some tips when negotiating and drafting the work letter for leasehold improvement responsibilities, originally published in the January 2019 issue of SuiteLife Magazine:
Continue Reading Six Tips for Negotiating Leasehold Improvements

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal handed down a win for local governments on Wednesday when the Court reversed a previous Circuit Court injunction that barred the City of Miami from enforcing a ban on short-term rentals in residential areas of the City.

Background

In 2017, the City of Miami adopted a resolution that affirmed the City’s zoning regulations “as they pertain to short-term/vacation rentals,” and stated that neighborhoods zoned as T3 were limited to permanent residential use, which precluded rental accommodations per night, week, or anything less than one month.

Notably, the T3 zone encompassed most of the City’s single-family houses and duplexes. When residents who had been using Airbnb to rent their properties spoke against the resolution, residents were directed to state their name and address for the record, and the City Manager made the comment that the City was “now on notice” of those who spoke against the City’s code and that he would direct his staff to enforce the City code.


Continue Reading Limited Vacancy: Florida Appeals Court Rules in Favor of the City of Miami’s Airbnb Rental Ban

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal recently handed down a decision that may make the lives of landlords and tenants a little more difficult.

In Jahangiri v. 1830 North Bayshore, LLC, the owners of a Miami deli tried to exercise their first renewal option under a commercial lease. The tenants were not able to exercise their first renewal option because the Court ruled that the renewal provision lacked a definite price term or definite procedure to determine the price term in the future.

Background

La Bottega on the Bay, LLC, entered into a written lease for commercial property in Miami with landlord 1830 North Bayshore, LLC. The lease contained the following provision:

RENEWAL OPTIONS: Upon six months [sic] notice and provided [lessee] is not in default of any provision of this Lease, LESSOR agrees that [lessee] may renew this Lease for two five-year renewal options, each renewal at the then prevailing market rate for comparable commercial office properties.”

Throughout the initial five-year term, the tenants timely paid rent and were otherwise in compliance with the terms of the lease. Upon trying to renew the lease under the Renewal Option, the landlord refused to renew. The tenants then sued to enforce the Renewal Option.

Ruling


Continue Reading Florida Appeals Court Rules Terms in Commercial Lease Too Vague for Renewal