From the first week of March through the first week of May, our State Representatives and Senators head to Tallahassee for the annual Legislative Session. But... much of their work is beginning earlier than ever, in Legislative Committee Meetings happening as you read this right NOW!
Every legislative session is chock-full of ideas both good and bad. Some pass, and some fail. Some are condemned to the dustbin of history. And some, thanks to some deep-pocketed special interests, keep coming back, year after year.
One of those bad ideas is back again: the Home Tax, SB 398 and HB 483. If you own, manage, or live in a community association, this will cost you money - so here's how we can stop it.
If you've seen the movie 300, you know the story: 300 Spartans fighting back against 300,000 Persian soldiers - and the little guys win. Remember that.
If you've heard of the Home Tax before, you know why it's bad. If not, here's what you need to know:
You already know about "Estoppels," those important legal documents that detail any liens, fines, overdue fees, and other money owned by a current homeowner to their association. THAT BIND YOUR ASSOCIATION. You know that associations are legally required to provide buyers and sellers with that information. And you know that estoppels take time and money for associations to prepare.
Community associations charge a reasonable fee for preparing estoppels. It's a standard part of buying and selling a home in an association. And like any other service, they expect to be paid when the service is rendered. It's simple.
Well, those deep-pocketed special interests - Title Companies and Realtors- aren't happy about that. They've made record profits in the housing recovery. In fact, Realtor commissions and title services make up almost 80% of average closing costs in Florida. But it's not enough for them - they want more of your money. $$ Here's what they're planning for you:
* Price-fixing: capping what your association can charge for estoppels, no matter how much time or money it takes you to prepare them.
* Pay at closing: associations will only be paid for estoppels at closing - if the closing falls through, you won't be reimbursed.
* Higher fees: If deadline requirements aren't met, your association will lose all legal rights to collect unpaid fees - that means assessments and up to 30 percent higher fees for homeowners.
Now here's the good news: we've beaten the Home Tax two years in a row. That's thanks to your phone calls and emails to lawmakers asking them to say no to the special interests and their lobbyists.
That's literally like our 300 Spartans of community associations going up against 300,000 Realtors and title companies - and winning.
But the bad news? It's back again, it's moving early, and it's moving very, very fast this year. While many bills aren't heard until the Legislative Session begins, this one is already in committee.
In fact, the Home Tax will have its first Committee Hearing this coming week; on Wednesday, February 22 at 12:30 PM, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee will consider Senator Kathleen Passidomo's SB 398, one of the Home Tax bills.
We need you to take action again, quickly. Here's what to do in just five minutes of your time:
1. Check out the below list of Senators on the Regulated Industries committee.
2. Send each of them an email sharing why SB 398 would hurt your association
3. Call each of them and tell them to vote no on SB 398.
The Spartans faced impossible odds against a determined opponent - but they won the day by banding together. We can stop the Home Tax again, but only if we speak up together as homeowners, board members, Managers, and owners.