Article Detail

News & Knowledge

New HOA Estoppel Requirements Signed Into Law

June 20, 2017

By: Gary Kaleita

Title insurance companies and closing agents handling transactions involving homeowners’ and condominium associations have long been frustrated by the timing and cost associated with obtaining estoppel letters from these associations and their management companies. Governor Scott has signed Estoppel Bill SB 398, which addresses these problems and will become effective July 1, 2017.  Here is what you need to know:

Fee CapA cap is established on the fee for an estoppel certificate of $250, with an additional $100 expediting fee (defined as 3 days or less), if applicable. If there is a delinquency, an additional $150 may be charged.

Waiver of ReimbursementOne of the difficulties title and closing agents regularly faced was the association forcing them to waive the recovery of estoppel fees they paid to an association if the applicable transaction did not close. The law previously provided that a refund was due in that event, but associations were requiring parties requesting estoppels to waive their right to a refund. The new law makes such waivers unenforceable, and provides that the prevailing party in any action to enforce a right of reimbursement shall be awarded damages and all applicable attorneys’ fees and costs. If an association has to provide a refund, it can still recover the estoppel fee from the owner whose property was the subject of the transaction that did not close.

TimingThere are several critical timelines built into the new legislation, such as:

  • Response: Associations must respond to an estoppel request within 10 days of receipt of the request or waive the right to charge any fee for the preparation of the estoppel.
  • Term: An estoppel that is sent electronically will be good for 30 days, 35 days for those sent by ordinary mail. No longer should an agent be presented with an estoppel good for an unreasonably short period.

ContentThe content of an estoppel is now established by statute. This will mean that title and closing agents should receive estoppel letters in a uniform format going forward.

Bulk Unit PurchasesFor bulk purchases, there are new maximum estoppel fees.


Gary

With more than 30 years of experience in real estate law, including over 20 years as a Board-certified expert in the field, Gary Kaleita has acquired the ability to navigate the complexities of sophisticated real estate deals with relative ease.


Gary has a wide variety of experience in real estate development, finance and transactions, condominiums, property owners’ associations, commercial leasing, commercial lending, and title insurance.

Gary enjoys a reputation for anticipating and avoiding problems, rather than merely reacting to them. He has years of experience handling purchases, sales and financings of commercial and residential projects, including office, industrial, retail, multi-family, single-family, condominium, resort, hotel and golf course properties. Gary has prepared and negotiated contracts for sale and purchase, performed due diligence investigations, and handled all aspects of closings, including issuance of title insurance and legal opinions. He has also performed tax free exchanges (both forward and reverse) under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, and has handled closings for housing revenue bond financing transactions with the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and various local housing finance authorities.

In the area of real estate development, Gary has assisted developers in obtaining land use approvals, plat approvals and permits for various developments from a number of jurisdictions in Central Florida, including planned developments (PD’s) and Developments of Regional Impact (DRI’s). He has drafted and negotiated complex land use documents, including development agreements, cost-sharing agreements, declarations of covenants, conditions, restrictions and easements. He also has experience in mall and shopping center developments, including outparcels, and has assisted developers with the selection, formation and operation of business entities, including commercial and residential property owners associations. He has extensive experience with the formation and operation of both commercial and residential condominiums as well.

In addition, Gary has established somewhat of a boutique practice by acting as local counsel to help out-of-state lenders, investors and law firms navigate the complexities of Florida real estate law. He is frequently engaged by large national and international law firms needing assistance on a variety of issues for their clients doing business in Florida. Gary regularly provides advice on Florida law and custom pertaining to purchase and sale contracts as well as loan documents, addresses local due diligence issues, answers questions involving titles, surveys and title insurance, and provides Florida legal opinions.

Not just another real estate lawyer, before pursuing his career in law Gary served as a U.S. Naval officer on active duty for 4 years in the Mediterranean Sea, first with a patrol gunboat squadron in Italy and then at a communications station in Greece. During this period he traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. He believes his military experience is the source of the practical approach he has developed to problem solving.

Gary also took the initiative, after a homeowner in his own neighborhood was mauled by a Florida black bear in 2013, of researching what his homeowners’ association could do to limit the likelihood of future attacks. In the process, he became an expert in the subject of “bear-wise” communities and drafted a policy that his own homeowners’ association adopted, thereby becoming the first residential community to be officially recognized as bear-wise by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). He has since written and spoken extensively on this subject, serves on the FWC’s Central Bear Management Unit Stakeholder Group, and has become a resource for FWC to educate other communities on the importance of bear-wise practices in areas of Florida containing black bear habitat.

Gary focuses on finding pragmatic solutions to complex problems, recognizing that clients want sensible and realistic advice in a timely manner so they can go about their business.

Chambers USA (2015)* reports that Gary has substantial experience acting as lender’s counsel and is acclaimed by market sources as an “extremely responsive, very practical and reasonable” practitioner.


*We make no guarantees or promises that the reader will realize the same or similar results

Meritas Law Firms Worldwide logo
Do Your Part Logo