Florida State Flag A few new Florida laws – ones passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott – have an effective date of July 1 and go into effect on Monday.

Laws effective July 1, 2013

• Tax loophole closes. Language was included in different bills to close a tax loophole used by for-profit affordable housing builders that form non-profit subsidiaries primarily to pay lower property taxes. (HB 437).

• Squatters find it more difficult to claim ownership of an abandoned house.
Lawmakers strengthened Florida’s adverse possession laws. Starting Monday, a claim of adverse possession requires 1) payment of all outstanding taxes and liens levied by the state, county or municipality within one year; and 2) submission of information to the county property appraiser: contact info, date the adverse possession claim began, legal description of the property, and dates when outstanding taxes and liens were paid. Filing this return, however, does not give an adverse possessor an enforceable interest in the property. Squatters who don’t file a return may be charged with trespassing. If an adverse possessor leases the property to a third party, he can be charged with theft. (HB 903)

• Citizens Property Insurance Corp. gets new rules.
Some rules in a massive law impacting the state-owned insurer become effective at different times. However, a few kick in on Monday: 1) A rule requiring all new applicants to go through a clearinghouse to establish if they’re eligible for Citizen’s coverage; and 2) the addition of a consumer advocate in the Citizens Board of Governors. (SB 1770)

• Rules eased for renting with a homestead exemption. Under current law, a homeowner who rents his home for any length of time in two consecutive years can lose his homestead exemption. Starting Monday, a “safe harbor” allows people to rent their homestead up to 30 days a year without losing the exemption. However, rentals that exceed 30 days for two consecutive years jeopardize the homestead exemption in year two. Note: The law doesn’t address how many days beyond the 30-day threshold triggers abandonment of homestead. A Department of Revenue opinion allows rentals up to six months every other year if proof of substantial residency and other conditions are met. (SB 342)

• Residential landlord tenant changes.
Some changes were made to Florida’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, including a change to the disclosure language landlords who rent five or more dwelling units are required to give. While the law becomes effective July 1, use of the revised disclosure is not mandatory until Jan. 1, 2014. In addition, the new law contains provisions about screens, recurring tenant violations of a lease, evictions after acceptance of partial rent, non-renewal notice requirements, writs of possession and the transfer of security deposits from a previous owner to a new landlord. (HB 77)

• Green energy tax incentives.
A new law creates rules to implement the tax break for solar energy devices installed on or after Jan. 1, 2013. The bill does not, however, shield windstorm mitigation upgrades from property taxes. (HB 277)