In the 2019 session of the Florida Legislature which recently adjourned, several bills affecting the title insurance industry were passed and signed into law by the governor. What follows is a brief synopsis of several of the most significant bills.
Public Records Exemption Expansion
Senate Bill 248 amended Section 119.071, Florida Statutes, to expand the current public records exemption for the disclosure of the home address of law enforcement officials. The definition of “home address” now includes the property’s physical street address, legal description and parcel identification number. The Act further provides for a release of records by the affected official. Effective July 1, 2019.
Documentary Stamps on Intra-Spousal Transfers of Homestead Property
House Bill 7123 amends Section 201.02, Florida Statutes, to eliminate the time limitation on the exemption of documentary stamps on transfers of homestead property when there is no consideration paid other than there being a mortgage or other lien on the property. Effective May 15, 2019.
House Bill 447 passed both houses of the state legislature unanimously and is intended to streamline the process of closing out existing permits. The new law allows expired permits to be closed without the necessity of opening a new permit if the work has been substantially completed and any work needed to close the permit may be done based on the code in effect as of the date the original permit was opened. Also, an open building permit issued at least six years ago may be closed by local authorities without a final inspection where no safety issue exists. It also provides protection to purchasers of property with open or expired permits and requires that notice be given to property owners who have permits that are about to expire. Effective October 1, 2019.
House Bill 91 amends Section 48.23 to establish that in a foreclosure case a lis pendens remains in effect through the recording of the certificate of title. The new provision clarifies that a foreclosure eliminates interests that were recorded between the date of the final judgment of foreclosure and the certificate of title, as well as an interest attaching prior to the final judgment, which were properly foreclosed.
Remote Online Notaries (R.O.N.)
This legislation, House Bill 409, received the most attention from the title industry in this year’s session. The bill, which amends Section 117, Florida Statutes, creates an online notary public, authorizes remote notarizations without the notary being in the same physical location as the signatory to the instrument being notarized and provides for execution of e-wills. It does not take effect until January 1, 2020, to provide time for the Florida Department of State to adopt regulations prior to implementation of the new law. Stewart will provide additional guidance on the subject prior to the law taking effect.
For online viewing of above referenced House Bills please see the following links:
House Bill 248 - https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/248/BillText/er/PDF
House Bill 7123 - https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/7123/BillText/er/PDF
House Bill 447 - https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/447/BillText/er/PDF
House Bill 91 - https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/91/BillText/er/PDF
House Bill 409 - https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/409/BillText/er/PDF
If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.
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