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Agents' Section

John Sthreshley
Agents’ Section Chair
First International Title

A year ago in this position, Tim Steele explained why it is so important that the Agents Section of FLTA is active in the legislative process. We have always been diligent about protecting the buyers and sellers who are our customers. That continues to be the case this year. As you are reading this, the Florida legislative session is ongoing. The legislature is considering several bills that impact the buyers and sellers we serve and we are there giving our input into the process.

Many of our members may be unaware that our Agents Section retains a professional lobbyist to assist us in getting our message across to members of the legislature and their staffs. Our lobbyist is David Daniel of the firm of Smith, Bryan & Myers. David is an expert in government relations and public affairs and has a history of securing legislative wins for his clients.

Marketable Record Title Act. David Daniel reports that Senate Bill 266 sponsored by Senator Kathleen Passidomo CR-Naples) and House Bill 617 sponsored by Representative Katie Edwards CD-Plantation) are intended to amend laws related to covenants and restrictions. He explains that the bills extend statutory provisions regarding preservation and revival of covenants and restrictions, authorize real property owners to revitalize extinguished covenants and restrictions and simplify procedures for renewal of covenants and restrictions. At last rep01i, the bills have cleared one committee in each house and are headed to a second.

Homestead waivers. The case law interpreting deeds to homestead property is a bit confusing. In some cases, a spouse who joined in a deed that included the transfer of "hereditaments" was found to have waived her homestead rights in the property. Senate Bill 512 by Senator Dana Young CR-Tampa) and House Bill 421 sponsored by Representative Lori Berman CD-Boynton Beach) are intended to address this by proposing language that would make it clear whether the spouse is intending to waive his or her homestead rights in the property described in a deed. This would come up, for example, if a husband who owns the homestead transfers it to his revocable trust by a deed joined by his spouse. Would a provision in the trust leaving the homestead on his death to someone other than his spouse be enforceable? In signing the deed, did the wife waive her right to inherit the homestead? The issue hinges on whether the spouse intended to waive her homestead rights in the property when she joined in the deed to her husband's trust. These bills are intended to clarify these issues.

Online notarization. Senate Bill 1042 by Senator Jeff Brandes CR-St Petersburg) and House Bill 771 sponsored by Representative J.W. Grant CR-Tampa) are designed to permit remote notarizations via the Internet. A company called Notarize, Inc., based in Virginia, is behind these bills. Some of the biggest concerns for us and our customers are proper identification of the person whose signature is being notarized and whether, unseen to the notary, the person is under duress. In either case, the validity of the document being notarized is obviously subject to question. Whether these bills or some future bill gets enacted, I suspect that online notarization is something that is sure to come to Florida. I understand other states already have such legislation in place. I have heard that Notarize, Inc. is open to suggestions for improving their proposal. I look forward to working with our lobbyist, David Daniel, to be sure that our input is heard.

If you have any comments or suggestions regarding any of this legislation or any other legislation that you believe impacts our customers and our industry, please let me hear from you.

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P.O. Box 66145
St. Pete Beach, FL 33736

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