Fresh News on The Estoppel Bill (CS/SB 278)
This is the second in a series of weekly updates, each focusing on a Bill that we at CALL believe deserves your close attention. To those of you who answered our call to reach out to legislators on the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee last week, thank you. The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee adopted a strike all amendment, replacing the proposed statutory changes contained within SB 278 with new changes. The resulting bill is the Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 278 (CS/SB 278) addressed herein. The initials CS before a bill number denotes that a Committee Substitute has occurred.
The good news is CS/SB 278 has been amended to allow a management company or a self-managed association to charge a buyer or a seller for the time to prepare an estoppel certificate in advance of any real property sale. The association or manager may also charge an additional $150.00 if there are delinquencies to report in the estoppel certificate. CS/SB 278 would eliminate the add-on processing fees that were not expressly prohibited by current law. While the foregoing changes are good news for associations and their management companies, there are many more changes made by CS/SB 278 that are not positive. The following is not a comprehensive list of all the new provisions within CS/SB 278, but these are the most concerning additions to us.
First, CS/SB 278 would reduce the estoppel fee, from $299.00 to $250.00, and eliminate the gradual increase in estoppel fees established under existing law. CS/SB 278 would eliminate the $100.00 rush order fee for an expedited estoppel certificate. CS/SB 278 would also lower the number of days to prepare an estoppel, from 10 business days to 5 business days. This tight timeframe means that there will always need to be backup in the management office to address estoppel requests.
In addition, CS/SB 278 requires payment of an estoppel fee from the sale proceeds at closing, whereas fees are presently collectible in advance of closing. As presently drafted, under CS/SB 278 an association would not be paid for estoppel preparation work performed if the sale did not close. Approximately thirty percent (30%) of Florida home sales did not close in 2022. CS/SB 278 would also prohibit an association from indemnifying a management firm for errors or omissions relating to the preparation or provision of an estoppel certificate. Again, this list is not comprehensive. Please see the bill text for additional information.
If you oppose the provisions of CS/SB 278, please contact your legislator. Legislators on the Fiscal Policy Committee stated that they had received many emails and phone calls about SB 278 in the days before the hearing. Your outreach is working. Thank you.