Florida Senate - 2018                                    SB 1504
       By Senator Rouson
       19-01239-18                                           20181504__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to tax deed sales; amending s.
    3         197.502, F.S.; requiring certain tax
    4         certificateholders applying for a tax deed to pay
    5         certain costs required to bring the property to sale;
    6         deleting abstract companies as entities tax collectors
    7         may contract with for a certain purpose; requiring,
    8         rather than authorizing, tax collectors to contract
    9         with title companies for a certain purpose; revising
   10         the information to be provided by such title companies
   11         to tax collectors; defining the term “title company”;
   12         revising a requirement for fees collected at the time
   13         of application and added to the opening bid; requiring
   14         a clerk of the court, upon receiving the tax deed
   15         application file from the tax collector, to record a
   16         specified notice in the official records; providing
   17         construction, procedures, and requirements relating to
   18         such notice and the release of such notice; revising
   19         requirements for the advertisement and administration
   20         of tax deed sales by the clerk; providing construction
   21         relating to a certain notice of a tax deed
   22         application; revising requirements for opening bids;
   23         conforming provisions to changes made by the act;
   24         making technical changes; amending s. 197.522, F.S.;
   25         providing construction relating to the clerk of the
   26         circuit court’s reliance on addresses provided by the
   27         tax collector when sending or serving certain notices;
   28         amending s. 197.582, F.S.; revising requirements and
   29         procedures for the holding, payment, disbursement, and
   30         distribution by the clerk of certain excess proceeds
   31         from a tax deed sale; revising requirements and
   32         construction relating to the clerk’s mailing of a
   33         certain notice; requiring such notice to be in
   34         substantially a specified form; revising requirements
   35         for service charges and mailing costs by the clerk;
   36         specifying a timeframe under which a person must file
   37         a written claim with the clerk for the excess
   38         proceeds; providing a form to claim surplus proceeds
   39         of a tax deed sale; providing procedures for the
   40         filing of such claims; providing that certain claims
   41         are barred if not filed within a specified timeframe;
   42         revising procedures and requirements relating to the
   43         clerk’s determination of the priority of claims,
   44         payment of such claims, and the filing of a certain
   45         interpleader action; deleting a provision authorizing
   46         the clerk to move for an award of reasonable fees and
   47         costs from interpleaded funds; providing construction
   48         relating to the ripeness of actions to require payment
   49         of surplus funds; providing that a failure by certain
   50         persons to file a claim for excess funds within a
   51         specified timeframe constitutes a waiver to such funds
   52         and permanently bars such claims; specifying a
   53         timeframe under which holders of certain governmental
   54         liens must file requests for surplus funds
   55         disbursement; requiring the clerk or comptroller to
   56         disburse payments to governmental units for payment of
   57         liens before any other disbursements; authorizing the
   58         tax deed recipient to directly pay certain liens to
   59         governmental units; providing that such recipient,
   60         under certain circumstances, is entitled to receive
   61         all amounts paid to governmental units in the same
   62         priority as the original lienholder; providing
   63         construction and procedures if the clerk receives no
   64         claims for the excess funds within a specified
   65         timeframe; providing applicability; providing an
   66         effective date.
   68  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   70         Section 1. Subsections (1), (2), (5), and (6) of section
   71  197.502, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
   72         197.502 Application for obtaining tax deed by holder of tax
   73  sale certificate; fees.—
   74         (1) The holder of a tax certificate, at any time after 2
   75  years have elapsed since April 1 of the year of issuance of the
   76  tax certificate and before the cancellation of the certificate,
   77  may file the certificate and an application for a tax deed with
   78  the tax collector of the county where the property described in
   79  the certificate is located. The tax collector may charge a tax
   80  deed application fee of $75 and for reimbursement of the costs
   81  for providing online tax deed application services. If the tax
   82  collector charges a combined fee in excess of $75, applicants
   83  shall have the option of using the online electronic tax deed
   84  application process or may file applications without using such
   85  service.
   86         (2) A certificateholder, other than the county, who applies
   87  makes application for a tax deed shall pay the tax collector at
   88  the time of application all amounts required for redemption or
   89  purchase of all other outstanding tax certificates, plus
   90  interest, any omitted taxes, plus interest, any delinquent
   91  taxes, plus interest, and current taxes, if due, covering the
   92  property. In addition, the certificateholder shall pay costs
   93  required to bring the property to sale as provided in ss.
   94  197.532 and 197.542, including property information searches and
   95  mailing costs, as well as the costs of resale, if applicable.
   96  The, and failure to pay such costs within 30 days after notice
   97  from the clerk shall result in the clerk’s entering the land on
   98  a list entitled “lands available for taxes.”
   99         (5)(a) For purposes of determining who must be given notice
  100  and provided the information required in subsection (4), the tax
  101  collector shall may contract with a title company or an abstract
  102  company to provide a property information report as defined in
  103  s. 627.7843(1) the minimum information required in subsection
  104  (4), consistent with rules adopted by the department. If
  105  additional information is required, the tax collector must make
  106  a written request to the title or abstract company, stating the
  107  additional requirements. The tax collector may select any title
  108  or abstract company, regardless of its location, as long as the
  109  fee is reasonable, the required minimum information is
  110  submitted, and the title or abstract company is authorized to do
  111  business in this state. The tax collector may advertise and
  112  accept bids for the title or abstract company if he or she
  113  considers it appropriate to do so. As used in this section, the
  114  term “title company” includes a title insurer, as defined in s.
  115  627.7711, and licensed title insurance agencies and attorneys
  116  authorized as agents for a title insurer licensed in this state.
  117         1. The property information report must include the
  118  letterhead of the person, firm, or company that makes the
  119  search, and the signature of the individual who makes the search
  120  or of an officer of the firm. The tax collector is not liable
  121  for payment to the firm unless these requirements are met. The
  122  report may be submitted to the tax collector in an electronic
  123  format.
  124         2. The tax collector may not accept or pay for any property
  125  information report title search or abstract if financial
  126  responsibility is not assumed for the search. However,
  127  reasonable restrictions as to the liability or responsibility of
  128  the title or abstract company are acceptable. Notwithstanding s.
  129  627.7843(3), the tax collector may contract for higher maximum
  130  liability limits.
  131         3. In order to establish uniform prices for property
  132  information reports within the county, the tax collector must
  133  ensure that the contract for property information reports
  134  include all requests for property information reports title
  135  searches or abstracts for a given period of time.
  136         (b) Any fee paid for initial property information reports
  137  and any update within 60 days a title search or abstract must be
  138  collected at the time of application under subsection (1), and
  139  the amount of the fee must be added to the opening bid.
  140         (c) Upon receipt of the tax deed application file from the
  141  tax collector, the clerk shall record a notice of tax deed
  142  application in the official records, which is notice of the
  143  pendency of a tax deed application with respect to the property
  144  and is effective for 1 year from the date of recording. Any
  145  person acquiring an interest in the subject property after the
  146  recording of the notice of tax deed application is deemed to be
  147  on notice of the pending tax deed sale, and no additional notice
  148  is required. The sale of the property automatically releases any
  149  recorded notice of tax deed application. If the property is
  150  redeemed, the clerk must record a release of the notice of tax
  151  deed application upon payment of fees authorized in s. 28.24(8)
  152  and (12). The contents of the notice must be the same as the
  153  contents of the notice of publication required by s. 197.512.
  154  The cost of recording must be collected at the time of
  155  application under subsection (1) and be added to the opening
  156  bid.
  157         (d)(c) The clerk shall advertise the sale in accordance
  158  with s. 197.512, and administer the sale in accordance with s.
  159  197.542, and receive such fees for the issuance of the deed and
  160  sale of the property as provided in s. 28.24.
  161         (e) Notice of the application of the tax deed in accordance
  162  with ss. 197.512 and 197.522 which is sent to the addresses
  163  shown on the statement described in subsection (4) is
  164  conclusively deemed sufficient to provide adequate notice of the
  165  tax deed application and the sale at public auction.
  166         (6) The opening bid:
  167         (a) On county-held certificates on nonhomestead property
  168  must shall be the sum of the value of all outstanding
  169  certificates against the property, plus omitted years’ taxes,
  170  delinquent taxes, current taxes if due, interest, and all costs
  171  and fees paid by the county.
  172         (b) On an individual certificate must include, in addition
  173  to the amount of money paid to the tax collector by the
  174  certificateholder at the time of application, the amount
  175  required to redeem the applicant’s tax certificate and all other
  176  costs, and fees paid by the applicant, and any additional fees
  177  or costs incurred by the clerk, plus all tax certificates that
  178  were sold subsequent to the filing of the tax deed application,
  179  current taxes, if due, and omitted taxes, if any.
  180         (c) On property assessed on the latest tax roll as
  181  homestead property must shall include, in addition to the amount
  182  of money required for an opening bid on nonhomestead property,
  183  an amount equal to one-half of the latest assessed value of the
  184  homestead.
  185         Section 2. Present subsection (3) of section 197.522,
  186  Florida Statutes, is redesignated as subsection (4), and a new
  187  subsection (3) is added to that section, to read:
  188         197.522 Notice to owner when application for tax deed is
  189  made.—
  190         (3) When sending or serving notices under this section, the
  191  clerk of the circuit court is entitled to rely on the addresses
  192  provided by the tax collector and has no duty to seek further
  193  information as to the validity of such addresses, nor incurs any
  194  liability if an address provided is incorrect.
  195         Section 3. Section 197.582, Florida Statutes, is amended to
  196  read:
  197         197.582 Disbursement of proceeds of sale.—
  198         (1) If the property is purchased by any person other than
  199  the certificateholder, the clerk shall forthwith pay to the
  200  certificateholder all of the sums he or she has paid, including
  201  the amount required for the redemption of the certificate or
  202  certificates together with any and all subsequent unpaid taxes
  203  plus the costs and expenses of the application for deed, with
  204  interest on the total of such sums for the period running from
  205  the month after the date of application for the deed through the
  206  month of sale at the rate of 1.5 percent per month. The clerk
  207  shall distribute the amount required to redeem the certificate
  208  or certificates and the amount required for the redemption of
  209  other tax certificates on the same land with omitted taxes and
  210  with all costs, plus interest thereon at the rate of 1.5 percent
  211  per month for the period running from the month after the date
  212  of application for the deed through the month of sale, in the
  213  same manner as he or she distributes money received for the
  214  redemption of tax certificates owned by the county.
  215         (2) If the property is purchased for an amount in excess of
  216  the statutory bid of the certificateholder, the excess must be
  217  paid over and disbursed by the clerk according to subsections
  218  (3), (5), and (6). If the opening bid included the homestead
  219  assessment under s. 197.502(6)(c) property purchased is
  220  homestead property and the statutory bid includes an amount
  221  equal to at least one-half of the assessed value of the
  222  homestead, that amount must be treated as excess and distributed
  223  in the same manner. The clerk shall distribute the excess to the
  224  governmental units for the payment of any lien of record held by
  225  a governmental unit against the property, including any tax
  226  certificates not incorporated in the tax deed application and
  227  omitted taxes, if any. If the excess is not sufficient to pay
  228  all of such liens in full, the excess shall be paid to each
  229  governmental unit pro rata. If, after all liens of governmental
  230  units are paid in full, there remains a balance of undistributed
  231  funds, the balance must shall be retained by the clerk for the
  232  benefit of persons described in s. 197.522(1)(a), except those
  233  persons described in s. 197.502(4)(h), as their interests may
  234  appear. The clerk shall mail notices to such persons at the
  235  addresses provided in s. 197.502(4), notifying them of the funds
  236  held for their benefit. Such notice constitutes compliance with
  237  the requirements of s. 717.117(4). Any service charges, at the
  238  rate prescribed in s. 28.24(10), and costs of mailing notices
  239  must shall be paid out of the excess balance held by the clerk.
  240  Notice must be in substantially the following form:
  242             NOTICE OF SURPLUS FUNDS FROM TAX DEED SALE            
  245  .... COUNTY, FLORIDA
  246  Tax Deed #:....
  247  Certificate #:....
  248  Property Description:....
  250         Pursuant to chapter 197, Florida Statutes, the above
  251  property was sold at public sale on ...(date of sale)..., and a
  252  surplus of $...(amount)..., subject to change, will be held by
  253  this office for a period of 120 days after the date of this
  254  notice for the benefit of persons having an interest in this
  255  property as described in s. 197.502(4), Florida Statutes, as
  256  their interests may appear, except for those persons described
  257  in s. 197.502(4)(h), Florida Statutes.
  259         These funds will be used to satisfy in full, to the extent
  260  possible, each claimant with a senior mortgage or lien in the
  261  property before distribution of any funds to any junior mortgage
  262  or lien claimant or to the former property owners. To be
  263  considered for distribution of any funds, you must file a
  264  notarized statement of claim with this office within 120 days
  265  after the date of this notice. If you are a lienholder, your
  266  claim must include the particulars of your lien and the amounts
  267  currently due. Lienholder claims that are not filed within the
  268  120-day deadline are barred.
  270         A copy of this notice must be attached to your statement of
  271  claim. After examination of the statements of claim filed, this
  272  office will notify you if you are entitled to any payment.
  274  Dated: .....
  275  Clerk of Court
  277  The mailed notice must include a form for making a claim under
  278  subsection (3). Any service charges, at the rate prescribed in
  279  s. 28.24(10), and costs of mailing must be paid out of the
  280  excess balance held by the clerk. If the clerk or comptroller
  281  certifies that excess proceeds are not sufficient to cover the
  282  service charges, and mailing costs, if any, the clerk must
  283  receive the total amount of excess proceeds as a service charge
  284  Excess proceeds shall be held and disbursed in the same manner
  285  as unclaimed redemption moneys in s. 197.473. For purposes of
  286  identifying unclaimed property pursuant to s. 717.113, excess
  287  proceeds shall be presumed payable or distributable on the date
  288  the notice is sent. If excess proceeds are not sufficient to
  289  cover the service charges and mailing costs, the clerk shall
  290  receive the total amount of excess proceeds as a service charge.
  291         (3) A person receiving the notice under subsection (2) has
  292  120 days after the date of the notice to file a written claim
  293  with the clerk for the excess proceeds. A claim in substantially
  294  the following form is deemed sufficient:
  296            CLAIM TO SURPLUS PROCEEDS OF A TAX DEED SALE           
  298  Complete and return to ...(clerk of the court)...
  299  By mail: ....
  300  By e-mail: ....
  301  Note: The Clerk of the Court must pay all valid liens before
  302  distributing to a titleholder.
  304  Claimant’s name: ....
  305  Contact name, if applicable: ....
  306  Address: ....
  307  Telephone no.: .... E-mail address: ....
  308  Tax deed no.: .... Date of sale (if known): ....
  310  (check one)
  311         .... I am not making a claim and waive any claim I might
  312  have to the surplus funds on this tax deed sale.
  313         .... I claim surplus proceeds resulting from the above tax
  314  deed sale. I am a (check one) .... Lienholder .... Titleholder.
  316         (1) LIENHOLDER INFORMATION (Complete if claim is based on a
  317  lien against the sold property)
  318         (a) Type of lien (check one): .... Mortgage; .... Court
  319  Judgment; .... Other; describe in detail: ....
  320         If your lien is recorded in the county’s official records,
  321  list the following, if known: Recording date: ....; Instrument
  322  #: ....; Book #: ....; Page #: ....
  323         (b) Original amount of lien $....
  324         (c) Amounts due:
  325         1. Principal remaining due: $....
  326         2. Interest due: $....
  327         3. Fees and costs due, including late fees: $.... (describe
  328  costs in detail, include additional sheet if needed)
  329         4. Attorney fees: $.... (provide agreement to show
  330  entitlement to attorney fees)
  331         (d) Total amount claimed: $....
  332         (2) TITLEHOLDER INFORMATION (Complete if claim is based on
  333  title formerly held on sold property)
  334         (a) Nature of title (check one): .... Deed; .... Court
  335  Judgment; .... Other; describe in detail: ....
  336         If your former title is recorded in the county’s official
  337  records, list the following, if known: Recording date: ....;
  338  Instrument #: ....; Book #: ....; Page #: ....
  339         (b) Amount of surplus tax deed sale proceeds claimed: $....
  340         (c) Does titleholder claim the subject property was
  341  homestead? .... Yes .... No
  342         (3) I hereby swear or affirm that all of the above
  343  information is true and correct.
  345  Date: ....
  346  Signature: ....
  348         STATE OF FLORIDA
  349         .... COUNTY
  350         Sworn to or affirmed and signed before me on ...(date)...
  351  by ...(name of affiant)...
  354         ...(Print, type, or stamp commissioned name of notary)...
  355         ...._Personally known, or
  356         ...._Produced identification; type of identification
  357  produced: .... If unresolved claims against the property exist
  358  on the date the property is purchased, the clerk shall ensure
  359  that the excess funds are paid according to the priorities of
  360  the claims. If a lien appears to be entitled to priority and the
  361  lienholder has not made a claim against the excess funds,
  362  payment may not be made on any lien that is junior in priority.
  363  If potentially conflicting claims to the funds exist, the clerk
  364  may initiate an interpleader action against the lienholders
  365  involved, and the court shall determine the proper distribution
  366  of the interpleaded funds. The clerk may move the court for an
  367  award of reasonable fees and costs from the interpleaded funds.
  368         (4) A claim may be mailed using the United States Postal
  369  Service, delivered by a commercial delivery service or in
  370  person, faxed, or e-mailed as authorized by the clerk or
  371  comptroller. The postmark on a mailed claim is the filing date
  372  of the claim. For a claim submitted using a commercial delivery
  373  service or delivered in person, the date of delivery is the
  374  filing date. The filing date for a faxed or e-mailed claim is
  375  the date of receipt by the clerk or comptroller.
  376         (5)Except for a claim by a property owner, a claim is
  377  barred if it is not filed with the clerk or comptroller on or
  378  before close of business on the 120th day after the date of the
  379  mailed notice as required by subsection (2). Any person, other
  380  than the property owner, who fails to file a proper and timely
  381  claim is barred from receiving any disbursement of the excess
  382  funds.
  383         (6)Within 90 days after the claim period expires, the
  384  clerk or comptroller may either file an interpleader action in
  385  circuit court to determine proper disbursement or pay the excess
  386  funds according to the clerk’s determination of the priority of
  387  proper claims as provided in subsection (3). The filing of an
  388  action to require payment of surplus funds is not ripe until the
  389  claim and review periods expire. The failure of any person
  390  described in s. 197.502(4), other than the property owner, to
  391  file a claim for excess funds within the 120 days constitutes a
  392  waiver of all interest in the excess funds, and all claims
  393  thereto are forever barred.
  394         (7) A holder of a governmental lien of record, other than a
  395  federal government lien or ad valorem taxes, must file a request
  396  for disbursement of surplus funds within 120 days after the
  397  mailing of the notice of surplus funds. The clerk or comptroller
  398  must disburse payments to governmental units for the payment of
  399  any lien of record held by a governmental unit against the
  400  property, including any tax certificates not incorporated in the
  401  tax deed application, and omitted taxes, if any, before any
  402  other disbursements from the surplus funds.
  403         (8)The tax deed recipient may directly pay any and all
  404  liens to governmental units which could have been requested from
  405  surplus funds, and, upon filing a timely claim under subsection
  406  (3) with proof of payment, the tax deed recipient is entitled to
  407  receive from the surplus funds payment for any and all amounts
  408  paid to governmental units in the same priority as the original
  409  lienholder.
  410         (9)If the clerk receives no claims for the excess funds
  411  within the 120-day claim period as required under subsection
  412  (5), there is a conclusive presumption that the legal
  413  titleholder of record described in s. 197.502(4)(a) is entitled
  414  to the excess funds, which become unclaimed moneys under s.
  415  116.21. The clerk shall process the unclaimed moneys in the
  416  manner provided for in s. 116.21.
  417         Section 4. This act applies to tax deed applications filed
  418  with the tax collector for sales pursuant to s. 197.542, Florida
  419  Statutes, which occur on or after October 1, 2018.
  420         Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2018.