Here's What Florida Realtors Is Watching During the 2022 Session
Florida Realtors serves as the voice of real estate in Florida. We provide programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to more than 200,000 members in 51 boards/associations. Our mission is to advance Florida's real estate industry by shaping public policy on real property issues. We're in the state Capitol watching out for Realtors and property owners' interests — on everything from rising property insurance costs to affordable housing.
Here are the issues we're closely watching during the 2022 Florida legislative session:
Hometown Hero Housing Program
Florida is experiencing a housing affordability crisis. The pandemic, a growing population and other economic factors have put increasing pressure on housing for many Floridians. As a result, teachers, health care professionals, firefighters and law enforcement find it challenging to achieve the dream of homeownership.
While some of these professionals earn enough to afford a monthly payment, they often cannot save for the down payment needed to qualify for a competitive mortgage. To help ease the housing burden on these hometown heroes, we are advocating for a new program that provides down payment and closing cost assistance to front-line and emergency workers.
We continue to support funding for the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) and State Apartment Incentive Loan programs (SAIL), serving low-income Floridians.
- The Hometown Hero Housing Program (HHHP) would complement existing federal, state, and local efforts to increase affordable housing opportunities for Florida's front-line and emergency workers.
- The new program would be similar in structure to the existing Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
- SHIP funds provide first-time homebuyers with down payment and closing cost assistance and preservation of existing housing.
- SAIL funds are used to rehabilitate existing apartments in dire need of repair or to build new units where needed.
Rising Property Insurance Costs
During Florida's 2021 legislative session, Florida Realtors supported House Bill 305 and Senate Bill 76, comprehensive property insurance bills designed to address rising insurance costs within the state. The reforms contained in this legislation are still working their way through the insurance industry.
While these reforms are implemented, we're exploring other factors impacting property insurance rates.
- Insurance cost drivers include exponentially increasing litigation expenses and a combination of frequent hurricanes and severe storms, natural catastrophes in other parts of the country or world, and rising reinsurance premiums.
- Increased insurance costs and lower levels of coverage brought about by changing underwriting guidelines are making homeownership unaffordable in many areas of the state.
- We continue to support sensible legislation that balances the need for property insurance relief with measures that ensure Florida's insurance industry remains healthy and competitive.
Water Quality and Environmental Funding
Water is the lifeblood of our state. It forms the foundation of our communities and must be protected. We continue to advocate for Florida's natural resources and a pristine environment. We also encourage all stakeholders, including the state government, to do their part to help solve environmental problems.
- We continue to support state funding to help preserve the Everglades, protect Florida's springs, renourish Florida's beaches, and support other related water quality projects.
- We continue to support legislation and funding that addresses the escalating problem of rising sea levels in Florida's coastal communities, such as the Resilient Florida Grant Program.
- We continue to support legislative and funding efforts to reduce the negative impact of blue-green algae on Florida's coastlines, including the newly established wastewater grant program.
- We continue to monitor legislation regarding septic tanks to balance property rights and water quality improvements.
Private Property Rights
Technology has made it easier for homeowners to rent their property, thereby expanding housing options for individuals living in or traveling to Florida. Many local governments have enacted new ordinances designed to discourage property owners from exercising their right to rent their property. State and local Realtor associations will continue to take action to protect private property rights.
- Being able to rent your home is a fundamental right of property owners.
- Short-term rental ordinances, including local licensing requirements, mandatory inspections and guest restrictions, can infringe upon this fundamental property right in significant ways.
- We continue to support legislation that creates a statewide, uniform system of regulations for vacation rentals.
- We also support legislation that gives local governments the authority to pass ordinances related to residential properties while they apply to all residential properties.
Business Rent Tax
The state sales tax rate on business rent currently stands at 5.5% but will drop to 2% in the coming years based on the 2021 legislature's passage of Senate Bill 50 (companion to House Bill 15). Lowering the business rent tax further will provide Florida businesses with the capital to expand, hire more employees, improve benefits, raise salaries, or invest in their business in other ways.
- We are grateful for the support of the 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 Florida Legislatures, which voted to lower the state sales tax rate on commercial leases.
- A lower Business Rent Tax has given Florida businesses the financial resources they need to grow their companies and enrich their communities.
- We continue to advocate for further reductions to this tax to ensure Florida businesses not only have additional resources to recover from the pandemic but can grow and better support their communities.
The June 2021 collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Florida, was a tragic event that killed 98 residents and left surviving residents with significant financial hurdles. The severity of the tragedy has called attention to the current laws governing the construction, maintenance and daily operation of these residential buildings.
- As the 2022 Florida Legislature discusses and debates condominium laws, we stand ready to provide input and guidance related to these buildings from both a Realtor and property owner's perspective.
- We advocate for greater transparency in the management of community associations to ensure their residents and visitors are safe. Prospective buyers must have the information necessary to make an informed decision when purchasing a condominium or home located within a homeowners association.