MIAMI REALTORS® scores major legislative victories for South Florida property owners

by Ana Maria Rodriguez

The MIAMI Association of REALTORS® advocacy team recorded major legislative wins for South Florida property owners and real estate professionals at Tallahassee’s 2024 legislative session, including an earlier-than-anticipated reduction to Florida’s business rent tax that will save commercial tenants $1 billion a year.

Florida’s commercial lease sales tax will go from 4.5% to 2% on June 1, weeks earlier than originally expected. The 2.5% reduction was originally slated to begin July 1.

This is a significant and hard-fought victory as Florida employers will receive at least $1 billion in tax relief beginning June 1, according to Florida Commerce. By cutting Florida’s business rent tax by more than half, this will ease the strain on Florida employers, making it easier for them to grow their business, hire new employees and continue to thrive.

MIAMI’s seven-year advocacy effort against Florida’s business rent tax

MIAMI REALTORS®, in conjunction with Florida REALTORS®, began advocating with lawmakers about reducing Florida’s business rent tax or commercial lease sales tax in 2017, when the rate was 6%. Florida is the only state to impose a sales tax on commercial rents.

MIAMI’s advocacy team continues to advocate for a complete repeal of the business rent tax. The BRT is a burden on local businesses that can put the state at a disadvantage.

More transparency, new HOA database secured for condo owners

After MIAMI REALTORS® advocated for more transparency and accountability for South Florida residents, Miami-Dade County commissioners passed an ordinance in March 2022 requiring condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations to file financial and governing documents into a public online library, just as MIAMI Realtor® and Hallandale Beach Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub did for her residents.

This legislative win brings more transparency in official condominium records and increased access to HOA documents for Miami property owners. The public online library is live here.

In the 2024 legislative session, two bills passed that significantly increase the transparency and availability of homeowner’s association (HOA) documents. HB 1203 requires that by Jan. 1, 2025, homeowners’ associations with 100 or more parcels must maintain official records on their website or an app. Additionally, HB 59 requires homeowners’ associations to deliver a physical or digital copy of their rules and covenants to all members and new members. Effective July 1, 2024.

Major legislative wins for affordable housing in Florida

One of the biggest wins for MIAMI REALTORS® and Florida REALTORS® in 2024 was the $100 million funding into the Hometown Heroes Housing Program to help Florida families purchase their first home in the community where they work. Just two months later, those funds were fully committed, helping more than 6,400 families purchase a home.

The Hometown Heroes program is available to all full-time workers in Florida who earn less than 150% of their county’s area median income (AMI). The maximum down payment assistance available to each homebuyer is $35,000, or up to 5% of their first mortgage loan amount.

For more information on the Hometown Heroes program or to connect with a loan officer in your area, please visit this site.

Also, $408 million for state and local programs was approved that increase affordable housing options for Floridians.

More funding for South Florida resilience projects

In April 2024, Gov. Ron DeSantis approved $200 million to continue a popular home-hardening grant program that could help about 20,000 mostly low- and  moderate-income residents cut property-insurance costs.

The My Safe Florida Home program, which offers up to $10,000 to help Floridians harden their homes, is intended to strengthen buildings against hurricanes and help reduce homeowners’ insurance premiums. Access the program here.

The legislature also approved $1.2 billion for water quality and restoration projects. This includes about $850 million for Everglades restoration projects, including $614 million to support the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir.

Property insurance cost reductions for all Floridians

Florida imposes a 1.75% tax on most Florida insurance premiums. HB 7073 requires insurers to give homestead property owners a deduction on their residential property insurance premiums in the amount of 1.75% of the policyholder’s total premium. This applies to policies with coverage for a 12-month period and effective after Oct. 1, 2024, and before Sept. 30, 2025. Effective July 1, 2024.

Also, seller flood disclosure to inform buyers and prevent post-closing disputes were approved.

Removal of squatters on private property, combatting unlicensed real estate activity

HB 621 addresses issues with unauthorized squatters who occupy private property. The bill aims to quickly restore possession of such property to the lawful owner by allowing the property owner or their agent to request the immediate removal of unlawfully occupying persons from a residential dwelling. Effective July 1, 2024.

The 2024-2025 fiscal year budget (HB 5001) allocates up to $500,000 to combat unlicensed real estate activity. Effective: July 1, 2024.

MIAMI will always promote, protect the interests of South Florida property owners

Now, MIAMI’s advocacy team will head to Washington, D.C., May 7 to do hill visits with lawmakers in conjunction with National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) leaders.

MIAMI REALTORS® Chief of Strategic Initiatives and Miami-Dade Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, Chief Legal Counsel Evian White De Leon, Director Political Affairs Samantha Garcia and 2024 MIAMI REALTORS® PAC Chairman Ines Hegedus-Garcia lead the advocacy team. Together with MIAMI REALTORS’ 110 leaders in six boards, MIAMI advances the interest of the real estate industry via many channels, including its annual visit to Tallahassee to speak with lawmakers during Great American Realtor Days.

Since 1969, the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) has promoted the election of pro-REALTOR candidates across the United States. The purpose of RPAC/PAF (Political Advocacy Fund) is clear: Realtors raise and spend money to elect candidates who understand and support their interests. The money to accomplish this comes from voluntary contributions made by Realtors.

To join the MIAMI REALTORS® PAC, visit our website.

Ana Maria Rodriguez is chief of strategic initiatives for MIAMI REALTORS®.

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