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Legal Hotline/Users/adamp/Desktop/Stuff for FAR/Magazine Assets/SEPT08/images/legalHotling

Contracts
Q I have a fully executed FAR9 Residential Sale and Purchase Contract along with the FAR SSA-2 Short Sale Addendum to Purchase and Sale Contract. We are still within the time period in which the seller may obtain the lender’s approval of the short sale, and now another buyer has made what is arguably a better offer. May the seller sign the second contract?

A The seller may sign a second contract but should do so only as a backup contract with the appropriate backup contract addendum attached. If using a FAR contract, use addendum P(1) from the FARA-9 Comprehensive Addendum. Of course, the FAR SSA-2 Short Sale Addendum should also be used.

Condominiums
Q I’m having trouble getting my condominium association to respond to my questions. How can I force them to give me an answer?

A Section 718.112 (2)(a)2, Florida Statutes, provides that when a unit owner files a written inquiry by certified mail with the board of administration, the board must respond in writing to the unit owner within 30 days of receipt of the inquiry.
The board’s response must either give a substantive response to the inquirer, notify the inquirer that a legal opinion has been requested or notify the inquirer that advice has been requested from the division.

If the board requests advice from the division, it is required, within 10 days of its receipt of the division’s advice, to provide a substantive written response to the inquirer. If the board requests a legal opinion, it is required, within 60 days after receipt of the inquiry, to provide a substantive written response to the inquirer.

Failure to provide a substantive response to the inquiry as set forth in the statute precludes the board from recovering attorneys’ fees and costs in any subsequent litigation, administrative proceeding or arbitration that arises out of the inquiry.

Through its board of administration, the association may adopt reasonable rules and regulations regarding the frequency and manner of responding to unit owner inquiries, one of which may be that the association is obligated to respond to only one written inquiry per unit in any given 30-day period. In such cases, any additional inquiry or inquiries must be responded to in the subsequent 30-day period (or periods) as applicable.

Disclosure
Q Is the seller of a home that has a pending code enforcement action against it required to disclose this fact to a potential buyer?

A Yes. Pursuant to Sections 125.69 (4)(d) and 162.06 (5), Florida Statutes, the prospective seller must (a) disclose, in writing, the existence and the nature of the proceeding to the prospective transferee; (b) deliver to the prospective transferee a copy of the pleadings, notices and other materials relating to the code enforcement proceeding received by the transferor; (c) disclose, in writing, to the prospective transferee that the new owner will be responsible for compliance with the applicable code and with orders issued in the code enforcement proceeding; and (d) file a notice with the code enforcement official of the transfer of the property, with the identity and address of the new owner and copies of the disclosures made to the new owner, within five days after the date of the transfer.

According to the statute, a failure to make the disclosures described in (a), (b) and (c) before the transfer creates a rebuttable [i.e., refuted or opposed by evidence or argument] presumption of fraud. The statute also provides that if the property is transferred before the hearing, the proceeding shall not be dismissed, but the new owner shall be provided a reasonable period of time in which to correct the violation before the hearing is held.

Licensing
Q How long must a person hold his or her sales associate’s license before becoming a licensed broker?

A Effective July 1, 2008, Section 475.17 (2)(b), Florida Statutes, was amended to require that a person applying to be licensed as a real estate broker hold an active sales associate’s license for at least 24 months during the preceding five years. Prior to this change, the requirement was only 12 months.

Search through more Q & As online at Legal Center at floridarealtors.org.