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Florida Realtors Announces 2018 Legislative Priorities

Addressing issues impacting property insurance, vacation rentals, affordable housing and business growth, according to Florida Realtors®, the state's largest professional trade association.

By Toby Tobin
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TALLAHASSEE, FL – January 11, 2018 – As the 2018 Florida legislative session begins, it offers a prime opportunity to resolve ongoing issues impacting property insurance, vacation rentals, affordable housing and business growth, according to Florida Realtors®, the state's largest professional trade association.

"Every session, Florida Realtors stands ready to support homeownership initiatives and defend the private property rights of Floridians throughout the state," says 2018 Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen, broker-owner with Century 21 Hansen Realty in Fort Lauderdale. "This session is no different as we work to educate lawmakers on growing AOB abuses, private property rights associated with vacation rentals, affordable housing needs and the benefits of further reductions to Florida's business rent tax."

About 1,000 Realtors from across Florida traveled to the state's capital this week to meet with their legislators and discuss real estate-related issues as part of Great American Realtor Days, Jan. 9-11, 2018.

Florida Realtors' top priorities for 2018

Assignment of Benefits (AOB) reform
AOB was designed to help property owners streamline repairs to their home. But a growing number of contractors, such as water remediation companies and roofers, have been inflating the cost of repairs. When insurers contest the claim, the contractors file a lawsuit. Insurers often settle the lawsuit but the litigation costs are passed on to all policyholders.

"Realtors are going to make it clear that drastic reform of the Assignment of Benefits process is needed to cut down on the abuse that drives up insurance premiums for property owners," says 2018 Florida Realtors Public Policy Committee Vice Chair Tim Weisheyer. "In just 10 years we have seen 405 AOB cases balloon to 28,000, and the average AOB insurance claim is 50 percent more than non-AOB claims. These are sobering facts that really demonstrate the need for legislative action."

Business rent tax reduction
The 2017 Legislature took a big first step in growing Florida's economy by lowering the sales tax on rent to 5.8 percent. Small businesses, which make up almost 99 percent of all Florida employers, are disproportionately impacted by the tax. Further reductions to this tax will provide businesses with the capital needed to expand, hire, improve benefits and raise salaries.

"There is no doubt that last year's reduction to the business rent tax will help small businesses throughout the state, but we still have a lot of work to do if we want to lift this burden off our economy," says 2018 Florida Realtors President-Elect Eric Sain. "Millions of workers and their families benefit from a lower business rent tax and that's why we are going to be back at it again this year, urging lawmakers to reduce it even further."

Vacation rental fairness
Online platforms have significantly expanded the ability of homeowners to rent their property. In response, local governments around the state are establishing new ordinances, inspections and fees designed to discourage vacation rentals, often at the expense of private property rights.

"Innovative vacation rental tools have opened up new revenue sources for Floridians throughout the state, bringing increased flexibility and prosperity to their lives," Sain explains. "Unfortunately, local governments see vacation rentals as a disruption to the community and are trying to discourage the practice by infringing on people's property rights. We are urging the Legislature to step in and prevent property rights from being undermined."

Increase affordable housing funds
A 2017 report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) ranks Florida as the sixth least affordable housing market in the nation – discouraging news for a state looking to grow its economy. To encourage people to move to Florida, build lives here and contribute to the economy, the state housing trust funds need to be directed to as many programs as possible to help people buy homes.

"In support of our original position from 1992, Realtors will continue to advocate for as much funding as possible for affordable housing," says 2018 Florida Realtors Treasurer Cheryl Lambert. "These trust fund dollars positively impact our communities by giving thousands of Floridians the ability to achieve the American dream of homeownership."

© 2018 Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Toby Tobin: REALTOR®, SRES®

I am a REALTOR® licensed by the State of Florida and Seniors Real Estate Specialist, SRES®, with Grand Living Realty, now helping fellow aged 50+ buyers and sellers achieve improved outcomes in real estate transactions by integrating them with other age-related decisions/plans through my broad network of respected service providers; financial, wills, trusts, probate, insurance, healthcare, home services, recreation, lifestyle, estate planning, and adult living facilities.

Take advantage of my "Been there. Done that." experience, typically at no additional cost to you. Call me at (386) 931-7124 or email me at Toby@GoToby.com.

reader comments
What Property Rights ?
Posted by Ron
Jan 12, 2018, 4:03 pm
A person licensing their single family home as a transient public lodging establishment, AKA Vacation Rental should not have the ability to operate any different than a single family property owner licensing their dwelling as a bed and breakfast.

The Florida Real Estate Association is trying to cry this is a property rights issues when in fact it is not. The over reach of our legislature in 2011 caused this issue. They allowed the Florida Vacation Management Association a free pass to destroy our single family neighborhoods by removing local property zoning in addition to removing local governments rights to regulate busniesses. What other transient public lodging busniess is given a free pass?

A single family dwelling license by the state to operate a bed and breakfast must be inspected prior to operating and once authorized to operate they are require to be inspected bi annual. They must be in full compliant with the Florida Fire code, Life safety codes, ADA and general house keeping. In addition they must abide by local property zoning which prohibits this type of operation in single family neighborhoods. In most cases they also require sprinkler protection when the secondary men’s of egress is not at grade level. The biggest difference the C of F is change designating it new use which is a transient public lodging busniess B&B.

A single family home license as a vacation rental should also be in compliant with the same regulations. The owners of these dwellings are conducting the exact same busniess.

Our legislature should repeal the 2011 Senate Bill 883 Now! One size does not fit all. Miami is not Flagler. Let our locals make the proper decisions on regulations for each of their municipalities.

What next ? The state taking over comprehensive planning for each local municipality.

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Don "Toby" Tobin is a licensed real estate professional affiliated with Grand Living Realty. Toby is a member of the Flagler County Association of Realtors®, the Florida Association of Realtors, Enterprise Flagler, Flagler Home Builders Association, and the National Association of Realtors.

GoToby.com proivdes real estate news, commentary, and analysis for Palm Coast and Flagler Country Florida, as well as Realtor® referrals and consultation to buyers, sellers, and developers.