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Debra Wellins

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Bill Passed that Caps Estoppel Certificate Fees

Debra Wellins HB 483/SB 398, which caps estoppel certificate fees, was just passed by the Florida Legislature! As many of you know, this is a long-standing issue that those in the real estate industry have been working on for several years, and its passage represents a big win for homeowners and Realtors across the state. This bill caps the fees that community association management companies can charge for estoppel certificates at $250 for unit owners who are current in their assessments. An additional $100 can... Continue Reading >

Dueling Solar Energy Amendments

A group billing itself as Consumers for Smart Solar announced last week that it's launching a petition drive to place a solar energy amendment on the 2016 ballot. The goal is to collect 700,000 signatures by early next year in order to qualify. This is an important and vital amendment aimed at preventing another group, Floridians for Solar Choice, from prevailing with their amendment initiative. There amendment, if approved by voters, would prevent the state from regulating small, private solar companies that provide up to two megawatts of solar energy to properties... Continue Reading >

Same Sex Marriage- The Property Title Issue

Same sex marriage became legal in the State of Florida on January 6, 2015.  And up until now, gay and lesbian couples had no rights as a married couple, despite being legally wed in other states. There are, however, legal issues that remain unresolved concerning same sex marriage that can and will impact real property and ownership rights. So how are the underwriters handling the issuance of title to same sex married couples (SSMC)? Here's the legal lowdown. They are instructing that joinder of... Continue Reading >

The Courts Did Right by this Disabled Veteran

Debra Wellins A disabled veteran prevailed in the federal appeals courts this week on a discrimination lawsuit against a Central Florida condominium association. Ajit Bhogaita, an Air Force veteran, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  In 2008, he acquired a support dog named Kane to help him in his recovery. The dog exceeded the condo association's allowed weight limit of 25 pounds so the condo association demanded that the vet remove the dog from his unit. Bhogaita filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Florida Commission on... Continue Reading >

Same Sex Marriage Property Law Update

Debra Wellins Gay marriage bans are collapsing throughout the nation and rightly so. With that said, the Florida Bar has assembled a special committee to explore real estate and probate laws as they pertain to same sex couples. The Bar's Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section created the panel in June to study  property and estate issues pertaining to same-sex couples legally married in other states, who move to Florida.  There are statutory changes that need to be addressed if challenges to Florida's prohibition of gay... Continue Reading >

Same-Sex Couples and Real Estate Ownership Rights

Debra Wellins I recently met with a same-sex couple looking to buy their first house together. They were concerned about how they could own real estate together since the State of Florida does not recognize their marriage. And they were hoping that the Supreme Court's marriage ruling would benefit them. Unfortunately, the ruling is not likely to effect real estate law for quite some time. Just this week, a timely article came out in Florida Realtors,  illuminating some of the issues that face... Continue Reading >

Divorce and Home Sales Can be a Legal Mess

Debra Wellins I recently represented the buyer in the purchase of a condo.  After a lengthy contract negotiation, with both sides in full agreement, the seller added a stipulation to the contract that the sale was contingent on her divorce.  The listing agent suggested that this was a minor change to the contract, but I knew immediately that it was a significant problem.  After reviewing the issues and legalities with Craig Dearr, an attorney at Dearr Perdigon, I advised my client to abandon this transaction.  The seller did not disclose the divorce until the 12th... Continue Reading >