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Gov. Scott signs real estate-related bills into law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – March 23, 2018 – Gov. Scott signed a number of bills into law within the past week including a few that could impact Fla. Homeowners:

CS/HB 935: Mortgage regulation
The new law revises Ch. 494, Florida Statutes, governing non-depository loan originators, mortgage brokers and mortgage lender businesses subject to regulation by the Office of Financial Regulation to provide greater consumer protections. In some cases, the changes could impact the way home flippers finance repairs using a short-term loan before re-selling a property.

The new law defines the term "business purpose loan" and says that it's unlawful for anyone to misrepresent a residential mortgage loan as a business purpose loan. It also defines the term "hold himself or herself out to the public as being in the mortgage lending business." It's currently acceptable for an individual investor to make or acquire a mortgage loan with their funds, or to sell a mortgage loan, without being licensed as a mortgage lender, providing they don't "hold himself or herself out to the public as being in the mortgage lending business."

The law is the Florida Legislature's response to alleged unlicensed mortgage lending activity in South Florida. According to reports, some lending entities provided residential loans with usurious interest rates and high fees made under the guise of business purpose loans in order to avoid licensure and disclosure requirements under Ch. 494, F.S., as a mortgage lender. In some cases, they allegedly forced the borrower to form a limited liability company if they wanted the money.

Effective date: July 1, 2019.

CS/CS/HB 1011: Homeowner's insurance policy disclosures
This law requires homeowner insurance policies to disclose in bold, 18-point font that the policy does not cover flood damage. It expands the current required notice regarding flood insurance to include notice that the purchase of homeowner's insurance does not cover floods, even if hurricane winds and rain caused the flood to occur. The notice will appear upon initial issuance and in each policy renewal.

Effective date: Jan. 1, 2019.

HB 617: Covenants and Restrictions
This 28-page bill expands and modifies laws related to association covenants and restrictions.

Effective date: Oct. 1, 2018

HB 193: Mortgage brokering
This law reduces certain mortgage business regulations on securities dealers, investment advisors, and associated persons under certain conditions.

Effective date: July 1, 2018

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