8 On Your Side
By Mahsa Saeidi
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — 8 On Your Side has been reporting on the high cost of property insurance in Florida. On average, Floridians pay three times more than people living in the rest of the country. Now, a new legislative proposal could mean that homeowners get hit with yet another fee.
Senate Bill 278 will be heard in the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee next week.
One homeowners association group claims that if it becomes law, it will instantly increase fees for millions of homeowners.U.S. Senator fears Floridians may be forced to bail out Citizens Property Insurance
At first glance, SB 278 doesn’t sound controversial.
“An association may not charge a fee for the preparation… of an estoppel certificate,” the bill states.
An estoppel certificate is a document prepared during the sale of a home. Basically, a snapshot of the fees a seller may still owe to the homeowners association.
Pursuant to Florida law, sellers who live in associations must get the document so that buyers, who’d be liable for the fees, are not caught off guard.
“It’s the first time ever such a bill has ever been filed,” said Mark Anderson, the executive director of Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies (CEOMC), a group that represents associations. “This bill would eliminate their right to be paid for this very critical service that they’re providing.”
Anderson said it typically costs around $300 to prepare the document.
Currently, community associations charge sellers and buyers for the work but, SB 278 bans that.
Mark says if sellers and buyers aren’t paying for estoppel certificates, the cost will get passed down to all the neighbors.Getting Results: St. Pete man finally saving money 1 year after going solar
“So the money has to come from somewhere and it will come from, inevitably, higher fees and assessments on homeowners who should not have to pay for that,” he said.
However, the Lee County lawmaker who proposed the bill says that’s not true.
State Sen. Jonathan Martin told 8 On Your Side it doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars to prepare the document, and that he introduced the bill to stop HOA’s from taking advantage of buyers and sellers during a stressful time.
Additionally, Martin said his proposal does not mandate that HOA fees go up.
But will that happen anyway? He can’t say.
Martin said he wants to protect homeowners and he believes associations should be able to easily determine what a seller owes.