The 2016 state legislative session was smooth sailing compared to last year’s dramatic turn of events. The results are in… Here’s a rundown of newly signed – and rejected – Florida laws that will have a direct impact on homeowners.
How will these laws affect you?
Florida will host a three-day back-to-school sales tax holiday, which will save Florida families an estimated $28.7 million. The holiday will run August 5-7 to help families provide their students with the supplies they need to be successful during the school year.
Property Tax Proposals for Florida Voters
Floridians will be asked to vote later this year on two constitutional amendments impacting home-related property taxes:
- An amendment that would exempt solar panels or other renewable energy devices from tangible personal property taxes. It will appear on the August primary ballot.
- An amendment that would lock in place the property tax break for seniors who own homes valued at less than $250,000 and who meet residency and income requirements. It will appear on the November ballot.
Tax Exemption for Deployed Service Members
In effect since March 8, this new law expands the list of military operations that qualify certain service members for additional ad valorem tax exemption on homestead property. The exemption will be available for service members who receive a homestead exemption and were deployed during the previous calendar year.
The new law changes the application deadline for qualifying deployments during the 2014 and 2015 calendar years to June 1, 2016, for the military operations added by the measure.
Value Adjustment Board Process
Effective July 1, 2016, this new law makes several changes related to the process by which county Value Adjustment Boards resolve property tax disputes.
Every August, Florida counties send homeowners a Truth in Millage (TRIM) notice providing tax information about their property. Taxpayers who disagree with the assessment may initiate a review by filing a petition with the clerk of the Value Adjustment Board within 25 days after the mailing of the TRIM notice. Among the various provisions of the new law, Value Adjustment Boards must resolve all disputes by the following June 1.
Florida Smashes the Home Tax
For the second consecutive year, Florida lawmakers rejected legislation that would have shifted the burden of costs associated with outstanding fees owed on a home or condominium from title companies to homeowners’ associations and condo associations.
The failure of the legislation saves Florida homeowners money. “This bill [would] impose greater costs on our homeowners and our associations all over the state,” said Mark Anderson, a lobbyist for an association that represents community association managers.
Homeowner’s Property Insurance Rights
Important legislation that would protect Florida homeowners against Assignment of Benefits abuse was filed, but failed to become law after intense lobbying on behalf of trial attorneys and contractors who take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners.
What does this mean for Florida homeowners? According to the Florida Property and Casualty Association, “Even without a hurricane making landfall, property insurance rates are set to skyrocket for all Floridians.”
Fortunately, Assignment of Benefits abuse is preventable. Here’s what you can do to avoid getting caught in the middle of a home repair insurance scam.
Florida Homeowners’ Construction Recovery Fund
Effective July 1, 2016, this new law adds Division II contractors to the Florida Homeowners’ Construction Recovery Fund section, which will allow homeowners to make a claim and receive restitution from the fund when they have been harmed by a Division II contractor.
Most Division II contractors’ scope of work and responsibility is limited to a particular phase of construction, such as air-conditioning, plumbing, or swimming pools. General Contractors are considered Division I, rather than Division II. This provision is subject to certain requirements and financial caps.
Ban on Discharging a Firearm in Certain Residential Areas
In effect since February 24, this new law prohibits the recreational discharge of a firearm outdoors, including for target shooting, in an area that the person knows or reasonably should know is primarily residential. A violation of this law is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The new law provides exemptions for the lawful defense of life or property, the accidental discharge of a firearm, or the performance of official duties that require the discharge of a firearm. Additionally, the penalties do not apply if, under the circumstances, the discharge does not pose a reasonably foreseeable risk to life, safety, or property.