Permit Extensions for Emergency Declarations

Pursuant to Florida Statute 252.363, the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency tolls the period remaining to exercise rights under a permit or other authorization, essentially extending the life of the permit or authorization.

The expiration date of the permit or authorization is tolled for the duration of the emergency declaration plus an additional six months, and applies to the following:

  • development orders issued by a local government;
  • building permits;
  • permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district; and
  • the buildout date of a development of regional impact.

On March 9, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52 declaring COVID-19 a public health emergency. Such declaration triggers the provisions of Florida Statute 252.363 and allows extensions of the permits and authorizations mentioned above.

Requests for extensions must be submitted to the appropriate permitting authority within 90 days after the emergency declaration has expired. Executive Order 20-52 is set to expire on May 8, 2020, unless further extended.

Suspension of Mortgage Foreclosures and Evictions

On April 2, 2020, Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-94, which suspended and tolled any causes of actions for mortgage foreclosure and evictions for non-payment of rent by residential tenants. While this Executive Order suspends the actual acts of foreclosure and eviction, it does not relieve an individual of the obligation to make mortgage or rent payments. This Executive Order only covers evictions for the non-payment of rent, and does not apply to commercial tenancies.

Documentary Stamp Taxes on SBA Loans

Typically, Florida levies a documentary stamp tax on any certificate of indebtedness or promissory note at the rate of $0.35 for every $100 of the value of the indebtedness or promissory note. This would have applied to SBA loans under the CARES Act. However, Governor DeSantis’s Executive Order 20-95 suspended documentary stamp taxes on SBA loans to encourage small businesses to apply for these loans without the burden of paying documentary stamp taxes based on the value of the loan received.

Remote Online Notarization

With the availability of notaries becoming more and more scarce as we get deeper into the April stay-at-home order, the use of remote online notarizations are becoming more commonplace. However, some lenders may not accept remote online notarizations, or may have specifications that must be met for remote online notarizations to be valid. Additionally, title companies may only insure transactions when certain remote online notary providers are used, and may reject a document if an approved provider was not used. While most transactions can be completed using a remote online notary service, be sure to talk to your lender about whether a remote online notary will be acceptable, and talk to your title company or closing agent about what notary options are available.

On a related note, the Florida Supreme Court issued Administrative Order AOSC20-16 allowing oaths to be administered by notaries via audio-video communications equipment. It is important to note that this practice only applies to notaries administering oaths for the purpose of depositions or other legal testimony, and is not a sufficient process for executing documents. A remote online notary provider approved by the lender, title company, and closing agent, as applicable should be used.

If you have any questions about the resources available to you, or would like to discuss any of the above options, please feel free to contact me at 239-344-1164 or kaylee.tuck@henlaw.com.