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

Continue Reading COVID-19: Real Estate Updates Halfway Through the Stay-at-Home Order

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

On April 2, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order No. 20-94 (“E.O. 20-94”), which addressed mortgage foreclosure and eviction relief. In the preamble (i.e., the “whereas” section), the Governor recited that the Federal Housing Administration implemented an immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for FHA-insured single-family mortgages for at least 60 days, and recited that the Federal Housing Finance Agency similarly directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for Enterprise-backed single-family mortgages for at least 60 days. Based on those Federal moratoriums, Gov. DeSantis issued E.O. 20-94.

The language of E.O. 20-94 states:

  • Section 1: I hereby suspend and toll any statute providing for a mortgage foreclosure cause of action under Florida law for 45 days.
  • Section 2: I hereby suspend and toll any statue providing for an eviction cause of action under Florida law solely as it relates to non-payment of rent by resident tenants due to the COVID-19 emergency for 45 days.
  • Section 3: Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed as relieving an individual from their obligation to make mortgage payments or rent payments.

Continue Reading COVID-19: Mortgage Foreclosure and Eviction Relief

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

Impact fees charged by Lee County for roads, parks, and schools increased by 2.5% on March 7, 2020. The increase is part of a regularly scheduled increase adopted by the Lee County Commission in 2018, but will still leave fees at 50% of their full established rates adopted by the County.


Impact fees are charged by the County at the time of building permits to offset the impacts of new development on roads, parks, schools, and fire/ems services. The rates are reviewed and updated periodically to reflect current costs associated with these services.

As an economic stimulus in 2013, the County adopted a reduced “collection rate” for fees charged for roads, parks, and schools to 20% of their established fee. The reduction was not applicable to fire/EMS fees. Initially established for a period of two (2) years, the reduced collection rates were extended an additional three (3) years in 2015, but at a revised collection rate of 45%.

In 2018, the County revisited both the amount of impact fees (Ordinance 18-07) and the collection rate charged (Ordinance 18-08). At that time, the County generally increased the fees for most uses; for example, the full 100% road impact fee for a single-family dwelling increased from $6,458 to $9,996. However, the County also decided to continue collecting these fees at a reduced 45% rate, meaning the $9,996 road impact fee for a single-family dwelling would effectively be reduced to $4,498.

Additionally, the County provided for a gradual 2.5% annual increase in the collection rate over the ensuing five (5) years. The collection rate increased to 47.5% in 2019 and, as noted above, increased to 50% on March 7, 2020.

Next Scheduled Increase in Impact Fees

The last 2.5% increase is scheduled to occur on March 10, 2022, and will raise the collection rate to 55% at that time. It is expected that the County Commission will revisit both the amount of the fees and the collection rate in 2022-23.

For further information on impact fees, please contact me at

It’s an election year, and that means voters have a lot to think about before casting their ballots in the August and November elections. In every election cycle, citizens have the opportunity to go through the initiative petition process for the opportunity to put Florida constitutional amendments on the ballot as ballot measures.

How does the Petition Process Work in Florida?

Below is an overview of a not-so-quick process.

Continue Reading Foresight is 2020: A Look at the Constitutional Amendments on the November Ballot

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

At the close of our 95th anniversary year, we turn our attention, once again, to our community. Henderson Franklin’s attorneys, staff, friends and family volunteered to help two organizations this holiday season, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast and Meals for Hope, Holidays Without Hunger in Naples.

Lee County: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast

On Saturday, December 7, 2019, the firm hosted a party for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast at the IMAG History & Science Center in Fort Myers. Nearly 50 “Littles” had a night at the museum with arts & crafts, delicious pizza, scrumptious cupcakes and an early visit from Santa and his helpers.

Since 1968, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been helping change kids’ perspectives and giving them the opportunity to reach their potential. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast provides one-to-one mentoring relationships to children ages 6-18 years old throughout the Gulf Coast of Florida in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Highlands, Hardee, Charlotte, Lee, Hendry and Collier counties. To learn more, visit

Sponsors and Community Partners

We greatly appreciate our community partners who assisted us with the Lee County holiday project, including W. Brown and Sharon Thompson of Pizza Fusion, located at 12901 McGregor Blvd., #5 in Fort Myers.

Pizza Fusion restaurants specialize in organic fare free of artificial additives, such as preservatives, growth hormones, pesticides, nitrates and trans fats. The Pizza Fusion brand proudly offers health conscious alternatives. Learn more about Pizza Fusion at

Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery, 11150 S. Cleveland Avenue, Fort Myers Smallcakes Fort Myers is owned and operated by Don and Tonyia Moyer, a local couple dedicated to bringing a memorable cupcake and creamery experience.

Smallcakes has been featured on the Food Network’s “CUPCAKE WARS”, an appearance on ABC’S hit daytime talk show, “THE VIEW”, and was selected as “Must Try Cupcake Shop” by USA TODAY. To learn more about Smallcakes Fort Myers, visit

Collier County: Meals for Hope Holidays Without Hunger

Members of Henderson Franklin’s Naples office, along with a myriad of community members, participated in the December 14, 2019, meal packing event at North Naples Middle School.

Meals for Hope provides healthy meals that taste good and makes the meal packing process affordable and accessible to sponsors and hosts so that they can feed as many families as possible. They work diligently to source nutritious, non-perishable ingredients from trusted sources and establish long-term partnerships to keep pricing low. To learn more on how you can help or sponsor a meal-packing event, please visit

To view the “behind the scene” photos, please visit our Facebook page.

Our warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

I am often asked by association boards if the board can meet in “executive session” to discuss a sensitive topic, such as a personnel matter or dispute with an owner or neighborhood association, without members present.

Florida Sunshine Laws

Continue Reading Condominium and HOA Boards Beware of Holding “Executive Sessions”

In an unpublished opinion from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel unanimously reversed summary judgment which had been entered in favor of a property management company — Paradise Beach Homes (“PBH”) — in a premises liability suit which alleged PBH failed to warn guests about the danger of diving off the pier into 3 foot deep, Santa Rosa Sound.

Case Background

Knoll, the injured party, was staying with friends in a short term vacation rental home in Pensacola Beach which included a 188 foot private pier. When she arrived shortly after midnight she ran down the length of the pier and dove head first into the water, suffering a severe spinal injury.

The Appeal

On appeal, the issue was whether the property management company knew or should have known of the dangers associated with diving off the property’s pier and therefore had a duty to warn of the shallow depth. The trial court found in favor of the property management company finding that there was no history of anyone diving head first off the pier and that the defendant did not build the pier. On appeal, the injured party argued that the property should have known of the dangers of diving because the homeowner had previously placed a “No Diving” sign on their pier.

Continue Reading No Diving: What You and Your Property Manager Should Know Could Hurt You