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Why are Foreclosure Cases Sometimes Dismissed?

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When a homeowner falls behind on his or her mortgage payments and doesn’t make new arrangements with the lender, he or she risks foreclosure. In most cases, the lender can’t foreclose on the property until they have filed a lawsuit and received permission from the court. If the court dismisses it, the lender has to either re-file the lawsuit or try to collect the property or mortgage payments another way.

What to Know About the Foreclosure Process

In Florida, a lender can’t foreclose on a property without a court order. If a homeowner hasn’t made mortgage payments and the lender decides to foreclose the property, it usually files a complaint with the court. The homeowner then receives a copy of the complaint and has a choice to ignore it, answer it or file a motion to dismiss it. During the hearing to review the complaint, the judge will determine whether to proceed with the foreclosure case or to dismiss it.

What to Know About a Dismissal

If a judge decides to dismiss the foreclosure case, the lender can’t proceed with the foreclosure process. The judge might dismiss a foreclosure case if he or she doesn’t believe the lender owns the mortgage or if he or she doesn’t think the lender has followed the state’s foreclosure process properly. The mortgage lender can also dismiss the foreclosure case if it notices that it has made a mistake during the procedure or if the homeowner has made arrangements to pay the debt.

What to Know About Post-Dismissal

If a judge decides to dismiss the foreclosure case because the mortgage lender made a mistake or doesn’t have the ability to file a lawsuit against the homeowner, the lender has to start the legal process all over again. It’s important to note, that it’s possible to dismiss a foreclosure case in some states with prejudice, meaning that the mortgage lender can never re-file it. And some states limit the number of times a mortgage lender can file a foreclosure case, even if the judge decides to dismiss it without prejudice. To learn about Florida’s laws regarding foreclosure cases, it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable real estate attorney.

What to Know About a Voluntary Foreclosure

If a mortgage lender has decided to foreclose on the property, the homeowner can sometimes propose a voluntary foreclosure, known as a ‘deed in lieu of foreclosure,’ and request that the lender dismiss the case. In most cases, a voluntary foreclosure doesn’t impact the homeowner’s credit, and it prevents a lender from filing a lawsuit if the monies from the sale of the property don’t cover all of the homeowner’s debt. If you voluntary foreclose, you waive the right to receive any profit from the sale.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 866-200-4646 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

Can a Tenant Change the Locks Without the Landlord’s Consent?

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According to Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes – specifically article 67 – a landlord cannot remove locks from a property unless it’s for the purpose of maintaining, repairing or replacing them. The same chapter also covers whether a tenant can change the property’s locks without the landlord’s content. Let’s take a look.

Landlord’s Access to the Property

According to Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes – specifically article 53 – a tenant can’t unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter the property from time to time to inspect it, complete maintenance or repairs, and these other reasons.

  • To supply agreed services
  • To show the property to prospective or actual purchasers and other persons

The same article also specifies that a landlord can enter the property at any time to protect or preserve it. A landlord can also enter the property at any time if he or she has given the tenant a reasonable notice with a reasonable time, which is at least 12 hours before entry. The landlord should only enter between 7:30 A.M, and 8 P.M. Additionally, a landlord may have access to the property if:

  • The tenant has provided the landlord consent.
  • There is an emergency.
  • The tenant has unreasonably withheld consent.
  • The tenant has been absent from the property for a lengthy period of time.

A landlord can’t abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant.

Read the Lease Carefully to Determine if You Can Change the Lock

Unless it’s stated in your lease that you can change the lock provided you supply your landlord with a copy of the key, you can’t do so without his or her consent. Otherwise, you could subject yourself to an eviction. If you’re having issue with a landlord entering the property without your consent, or if he or she isn’t following the aforementioned guidelines for doing so, it’s best you contact an attorney.

For more information about this all-too-common problem for renters, contact an experienced real estate attorney who can investigate your complaint and deal with it properly. The last thing you want to do is risk eviction for protecting your privacy.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 866-200-4646 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

Can a Landlord List a Property for Sale if It’s Tenant Occupied?

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If you own a property and are thinking about selling it with a tenant still occupying it, you might ask yourself if you’re legally able to. Simply put, you can sell your property if you buy the tenant out of his or her lease. Otherwise, the person who purchases the property would have to honor the terms of the withstanding lease.

Let’s take a closer look at this often-asked question.

How to Handle a Month-to-Month Lease When Selling a Property

If you’ve rented your property on a month-to-month basis, you’ll only need to notify the tenant before you’d like him or her to move out. You must notify the tenant with a letter, either by mailing it (ensure that he or she has received it with a signature) or delivering it in person. In Florida, when terminating a month-to-month lease, you must notify the tenant not less than 15 days before the end of any monthly period.

Remember, you don’t need a reason to terminate a month-to-month lease, which is one of the benefits of having one. When writing the letter, ensure you include:

  • The current date.
  • How many days the tenant has before you terminate the lease.
  • A statement to remove all possessions and return the keys by that date.
  • A statement informing the tenant you’ll start the eviction process otherwise.

How to Handle a Fixed-Term Lease When Selling a Property

If you’ve rented your property on a fixed-term basis, it’ll take a little more effort – or money – to ensure your tenant moves on. Here are the five options you have.

  • Wait until the fixed-term lease has expired
  • Sell the property with the lease still active
  • Negotiate and pay the tenant to vacate
  • Sell the property to the tenant
  • Execute an early termination clause in the fixed-term lease

While a month-to-month lease is relatively easy to work around, a fixed-term lease is another story. Although you have options, it’s best to talk with an experienced real estate attorney to sort through them.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 866-200-4646 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

Homesteads and Trusts Explained

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Managing your assets while you’re alive and distributing them after your death are important steps to establishing financial family security. Creating a revocable trust is one way of doing so, and many people choose this option because you can change or cancel its provisions at anytime before you pass. With a revocable trust, you also ensure that a court doesn’t manage how your assets are distributed after death.

If a spouse or a minor child survives you, keep in mind that Florida law prohibits the devise of a homestead property, including ‘gifting’ through a will or ‘transferring’ through a revocable trust. To put it simply, if you have a surviving spouse or a minor child, Florida prohibits you from gifting or transferring your property after you die.

The Florida Constitution states that, “The homestead shall not be subject to devise if the owner is survived by spouse or minor child, except the homestead may be devised to the owner’s spouse if there be no minor child.” This can especially impact people who have been married multiple times and established long-held trusts.

Luckily, you can work around the Florida law and its homestead property restrictions. One way of doing so is setting up an irrevocable trust. Florida law states that if a homeowner commits his or her interest in a homestead property to an irrevocable trust and surrenders the power to revoke it, a court won’t consider the transfer of it a devise and it’ll respect the its disposition as directed by the trust.

Although irrevocable trusts aren’t as flexible as revocable trusts, Florida law still provides homeowners with some features of flexibility when planning one.

With an irrevocable trust, a homeowner can:

  • Retain a lifetime interest or a term of years.
  • Delay the possession of the homestead property until a specific date.
  • Subject the interest to a lapse or a divestment.

For more information about homestead properties and the different types of trust planning, contact our real estate team today to alleviate your worries and stress.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 866-200-4646 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

What are the Costs Associated With Closing a Home in Florida?

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If you’re in the market to purchase a property in Tampa, Florida, there are costs associated with closing the sale. And there are also costs the seller is responsible for. Here are the usual closing costs that a buyer and a seller must both pay.

Buyer: Closing Costs in Florida for Cash Deals

If purchasing a property in Florida with cash, make note of these three closing costs:

  • Deed recording fees
  • Inspection
  • Attorney fees

Buyer: Closing Costs in Florida for Financed Deals

Here are eight additional closing costs you must pay if you finance the purchase:

  • Taxes/recording fees on mortgages and notes
  • Intangible tax on mortgage
  • Recording fees
  • Survey
  • Lender origination fees
  • Lender’s title policy and endorsement
  • Appraisal fees
  • Pest inspection

Seller: Closing Costs When Selling a Property in Florida

The seller’s closing costs are stated in the real estate contract. These costs include:

  • Surtax on the deed and documentary stamp
  • Charges for title search
  • Leftover HOA/Condominium Association fees
  • Recording and other fees when curing the title
  • Attorney fees
  • Realtor’s commission

Important Note for Buyers and Sellers About Title Insurance

Purchasing title insurance protects you against claims that you aren’t the rightful owner of the property. If financing, lenders require you to purchase it. Cash buyers aren’t obligated, but it’s recommended they do so to protect themselves in the future. In some counties in Florida, the seller must pay for the title insurance.

Remember, though, that sellers can’t require a buyer to use a specific title company as a condition of the sale. Buyers can sue a seller who violates this provision.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 866-200-4646 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

What are ‘As Is’ Real Estate Contracts?

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There are two types of real estate contracts in Florida, including the ‘as is’ real estate contract. In a nutshell, an ‘as is’ real estate contract specifies that the person purchasing the property must do so in its existing condition without demanding the seller make any upgrades or repairs. The contract also states the purchaser has a short time period – usually 15 calendar days – to get the property inspected. Upon inspection, if the property needs repairs, the purchaser can ask the seller to lower its selling price or provide a credit at closing to cover the future repair costs. If the seller declines, the purchaser can back out of the contract within that time period.

Sellers Must Disclose Things About the Property to Prospective Buyers

If you’re debating whether to purchase a property using an ‘as in’ contract, it’s important to note a seller must disclose the following things about the property:

  • Potential or actual complaints, claims or legal proceedings
  • Disputes regarding boundaries
  • Pest damage and infestations
  • Potential or actual damage from sinkholes, whether past or present
  • Environmental hazards
  • Problems with HVAC, plumbing, roof, electrical, etc.
  • Homeowners association rules to comply by

Although it gives you less time to inspect the property, an ‘as is’ real estate contract offers more flexibility to back out of a deal if you’re a buyer.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 866-200-4646 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

What You Need to Know About New FL Property Laws

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Effective July 1, 2016, there are new property laws in Florida that apply to building codes, elevators in private residences and fumigation rules. If you’re a property owner or a property manager, here’s what you need to know about the new laws.

Changes to Florida’s Building Code

A new bill, HB 535, makes more than 30 changes to Florida’s building code, including these important ones that are most likely to impact you:

  • Exempts employees of communities with 100 or more apartments from contractor licensing requirements if performing minor repairs to existing HVAC systems if it costs less than $1,000 and they meet specific criteria
  • Allows a non-licensed electrical contractor to install some low-voltage lights
  • Requires that residential pools have an alarm that makes a sound when it detects an accidental or an unauthorized entry into the water
  • Requires a contractor or an alarm company inform property owners about any obligations they might have to register their alarm systems
  • Exempts Wi-Fi- smoke alarms or those that have multiple sensors
  • Requires Florida’s Building Code to mandate two fire service access elevators in every building above a specific height

Rules for New Elevators

A new bill, SB 1602, states new elevators in private residents must:

  • Have gates or doors that can withstand 75 pounds of force
  • Meet distance requirements between the landing door and the elevator gate
  • Meet distance requirements between the elevator shaft and the edge of the landing sill for sliding or swinging doors
  • Have a device that can stop the elevator’s downward motion at any time

Possible Upcoming Changes in Florida’s Fumigation Procedures

Right now, HB 1205 only authorizes Consumer Services and the Department of Agriculture to adopt safety procedures for residential buildings before being reoccupied. As of now, it has no impact on Florida’s fumigation rules unless they act.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 866-200-4646 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

What are a Tenant’s Rights to Withhold Rent in Florida?

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Tenants in Florida are legally entitled to a rental property that meets a set of health, structural and safety standards as required by the state. If your landlord fails to meet and maintain these standards, whether it involves not repairing a broken air conditioner or a leaky roof, you have important legal rights to consider. One of these is the right to withhold rent until the landlord makes the necessary repairs.

When Can a Tenant Withhold Rent in Florida?

Before withholding rent, tenants should ensure the circumstances justify their actions and that you comply with Florida’s legal requirements. One of these requirements involves notifying your landlord of the issue.

Research Florida’s state laws, or Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.60, on the following to learn more about your right to withhold rent and what legal recourse you can take.

  • What types of repairs and habitability issues qualify for withholding rent
  • What type of notice does a tenant have to provide the landlord, and how much time does that landlord have to respond to the problem and fix it
  • What’s the limit on how much rent you can withhold and how often
  • What are the other applicable conditions before you’re able to withhold rent

It’s also important to check your city or county’s local housing ordinances to see if any of them cover a tenant’s rights as it pertains to repairs.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 866-200-4646 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

Termination for Nonpayment of Rent and Other Rent Rules in Florida

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Every tenant in Florida should be aware of his or her landlord’s rent rules, which should be outlined in the rental or lease agreement. Here are the important ones.

Standard Rent Rules in Florida

Florida’s state laws cover some of the following rent-related concerns, including the amount of time a landlord has to issue a notice when he or she increases the rent and how much time the tenant has to either pay it or move to avoid eviction. Here’s what every rental or lease agreement should include as a standard set of rent rules.

  • The amount of rent owed each month
  • Where the rent is due
  • When the rent is due
  • How the tenant should pay the rent
  • The amount of notice a landlord must provide to increase the rent
  • The extra fee applied if a tenant’s rent check bounces
  • The consequences of paying the rent late

Late Fees for Rent Past Due in Florida

In most rental or lease agreements, rent is legally due on the first of the month. If you don’t pay the rent, your landlord can start charging you a late fee. Florida’s state laws don’t cover extra fees associated with late rent. If your agreement doesn’t include information about late fees, your landlord can’t impose one.

Amount of Notice Landlords Must Provide to Increase the Rent

There isn’t a state statute in Florida that covers the amount of notice landlords must provide to increase the rent in a month-to-month rental or lease agreement. Unless specified otherwise in your agreement, your landlord must provide the same amount of notice as state laws require when he or she terminates the tenancy, which is 15 days. If you have a long-term lease, your landlord cannot increase the rent until the current one ends and a new tenancy starts.

Termination For Nonpayment of Rent in Florida

All states set certain rules and procedures for terminating a tenancy when a tenant has failed to pay the rent. In Florida, the landlord must give the tenant three days to pay the rent or move before he or she can legally file for eviction.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 866-200-4646 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

What are the Required Landlord Disclosures in Florida?

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The state of Florida requires landlords to provide the following disclosures to tenants, which you can usually find in either the rental or lease agreement.

Owner/Agent Identity (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.50)

Every landlord in Florida, or someone who is authorized to enter a rental agreement on his or her behalf, must disclose the name and the address where he or she will receive demands and notices. The landlord should do this in writing and provide it to the tenant either at or before the start of the tenancy.

Security Deposit (Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 83.49, 83.43 (12))

Every landlord in Florida must disclose whether he or she will hold the security deposit in an interest- or non-interest-bearing account within 30 days of receiving it. He or she must also disclose the name of the account depository as well as provide the time and the rate of interest payments. Landlords who collect deposits must include a copy of Florida Statutes § 83.49(3) in the rental or lease agreement.

Fire Protection (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.50)

Every landlord in Florida must notify new tenants of the available fire protections in buildings that are higher than three stories.

Radon (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 404.056)

Every landlord in Florida must include this warning in all of his or her leases: “RADON GAS: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to persons who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in Florida. Additional information regarding radon and radon testing may be obtained from your county health department.”

Landlord Identity (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 83.50)

Every landlord in Florida, or someone who is authorized to enter a rental agreement on his or her behalf, must disclose the name and the address where he or she will receive demands and notices. The landlord should do this in writing and provide it to the tenant either at or before the start of the tenancy.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 866-200-4646 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***