Florida Senate - 2018                             CS for SB 1504
       By the Committee on Community Affairs; and Senator Rouson
       578-03173-18                                          20181504c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to tax deed sales; amending s.
    3         197.502, F.S.; requiring a tax certificateholder to
    4         pay specified costs required to bring the property on
    5         which taxes are delinquent to sale; requiring the tax
    6         collector to cancel a tax deed application if certain
    7         costs are not paid within a specified period for
    8         certain purposes; revising procedures for applying
    9         for, recording, and releasing tax deed applications;
   10         revising provisions to require property information
   11         reports for certain purposes; prohibiting a tax
   12         collector from accepting or paying for a property
   13         information report under certain circumstances;
   14         amending s. 197.522, F.S.; authorizing a clerk to rely
   15         on addresses provided by the tax collector for
   16         specified purposes; amending s. 197.582, F.S.;
   17         revising procedures for the disbursement of surplus
   18         funds by clerks; providing forms for use in noticing
   19         and claiming surplus funds; specifying methods for
   20         delivering claims to the clerk’s office; providing
   21         deadlines for filing claims; providing procedures to
   22         be used by clerks in determining disbursement of
   23         surplus funds; authorizing a tax deed recipient to pay
   24         specified liens; specifying procedures to be used by
   25         the tax clerk if surplus funds are not claimed;
   26         providing applicability; providing an effective date.
   28  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   30         Section 1. Subsections (1), (2), (5), and (6) of section
   31  197.502, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
   32         197.502 Application for obtaining tax deed by holder of tax
   33  sale certificate; fees.—
   34         (1) The holder of a tax certificate at any time after 2
   35  years have elapsed since April 1 of the year of issuance of the
   36  tax certificate and before the cancellation of the certificate,
   37  may file the certificate and an application for a tax deed with
   38  the tax collector of the county where the property described in
   39  the certificate is located. The tax collector may charge a tax
   40  deed application fee of $75 and for reimbursement of the costs
   41  for providing online tax deed application services. If the tax
   42  collector charges a combined fee in excess of $75, applicants
   43  may use shall have the option of using the online electronic tax
   44  deed application process or may file applications without using
   45  such service.
   46         (2) A certificateholder, other than the county, who applies
   47  makes application for a tax deed shall pay the tax collector at
   48  the time of application all amounts required for redemption or
   49  purchase of all other outstanding tax certificates, plus
   50  interest, any omitted taxes, plus interest, any delinquent
   51  taxes, plus interest, and current taxes, if due, covering the
   52  property. In addition, the certificateholder shall pay the costs
   53  required to bring the property to sale as provided in ss.
   54  197.532 and 197.542, including property information searches and
   55  mailing costs, as well as the costs of resale, if applicable. If
   56  the certificateholder fails to pay the costs to bring the
   57  property to sale within 30 days after notice from the clerk, the
   58  tax collector must cancel the tax deed application. All taxes
   59  and costs associated with a canceled tax deed application shall
   60  earn interest at the bid rate of the certificate on which the
   61  tax deed application was based., and Failure to pay the such
   62  costs of resale, if applicable, within 30 days after notice from
   63  the clerk shall result in the clerk’s entering the land on a
   64  list entitled “lands available for taxes.”
   65         (5)(a) For purposes of determining who must be noticed and
   66  provided the information required in subsection (4), the tax
   67  collector must may contract with a title company or an abstract
   68  company to provide a property information report as defined in
   69  s. 627.7843(1) the minimum information required in subsection
   70  (4), consistent with rules adopted by the department. If
   71  additional information is required, the tax collector must make
   72  a written request to the title or abstract company stating the
   73  additional requirements. The tax collector may select any title
   74  or abstract company, regardless of its location, as long as the
   75  fee is reasonable, the required minimum information is
   76  submitted, and the title or abstract company is authorized to do
   77  business in this state. The tax collector may advertise and
   78  accept bids for the title or abstract company if he or she
   79  considers it appropriate to do so.
   80         1. The property information report must include the
   81  letterhead of the person, firm, or company that makes the
   82  search, and the signature of the individual who makes the search
   83  or of an officer of the firm. The tax collector is not liable
   84  for payment to the firm unless these requirements are met. The
   85  report may be submitted to the tax collector in an electronic
   86  format.
   87         2. The tax collector may not accept or pay for a property
   88  information report any title search or abstract if financial
   89  responsibility is not assumed for the search. However,
   90  reasonable restrictions as to the liability or responsibility of
   91  the title or abstract company are acceptable. Notwithstanding s.
   92  627.7843(3), the tax collector may contract for higher maximum
   93  liability limits.
   94         3. In order to establish uniform prices for property
   95  information reports within the county, the tax collector must
   96  ensure that the contract for property information reports
   97  includes include all requests for property information reports
   98  title searches or abstracts for a given period of time.
   99         (b) Any fee paid for initial property information reports
  100  and any updates for a title search or abstract must be collected
  101  at the time of application under subsection (1), and the amount
  102  of the fee must be added to the opening bid.
  103         (c) Upon receiving the tax deed application from the tax
  104  collector, the clerk shall record a notice of tax deed
  105  application in the official records, which constitutes notice of
  106  the pendency of a tax deed application with respect to the
  107  property and which remains effective for 1 year from the date of
  108  recording. A person acquiring an interest in the property after
  109  the tax deed application notice has been recorded is deemed to
  110  be on notice of the pending tax deed sale and no additional
  111  notice is required. The sale of the property automatically
  112  releases any recorded notice of tax deed application for that
  113  property. If the property is redeemed, the clerk must record a
  114  release of the notice of tax deed application upon payment of
  115  the fees as authorized in s. 28.24(8) and (12). The contents of
  116  the notice must be the same as the contents of the notice of
  117  publication required by s. 197.512. The cost of recording must
  118  be collected at the time of application under subsection (1) and
  119  added to the opening bid.
  120         (d) The clerk must shall advertise and administer the sale
  121  as set forth in s. 197.512, administer the sale as set forth in
  122  s. 197.542, and receive such fees for the issuance of the deed
  123  and sale of the property as provided in s. 28.24.
  124         (e)A notice of the application of the tax deed in
  125  accordance with ss. 197.512 and 197.522 which is sent to the
  126  addresses shown on the statement described in subsection (4) is
  127  conclusively deemed sufficient to provide adequate notice of the
  128  tax deed application and the sale at public auction.
  129         (6) The opening bid:
  130         (a) On county-held certificates on nonhomestead property
  131  shall be the sum of the value of all outstanding certificates
  132  against the property, plus omitted years’ taxes, delinquent
  133  taxes, current taxes, if due, interest, and all costs and fees
  134  paid by the county.
  135         (b) On an individual certificate must include, in addition
  136  to the amount of money paid to the tax collector by the
  137  certificateholder at the time of application, the amount
  138  required to redeem the applicant’s tax certificate and all other
  139  costs, and fees paid by the applicant, and any additional fees
  140  or costs incurred by the clerk, plus all tax certificates that
  141  were sold subsequent to the filing of the tax deed application,
  142  current taxes, if due, and omitted taxes, if any.
  143         (c) On property assessed on the latest tax roll as
  144  homestead property shall include, in addition to the amount of
  145  money required for an opening bid on nonhomestead property, an
  146  amount equal to one-half of the latest assessed value of the
  147  homestead.
  148         Section 2. Present subsection (3) of section 197.522,
  149  Florida Statutes, is redesignated as subsection (4), and a new
  150  subsection (3) is added to that section, to read:
  151         197.522 Notice to owner when application for tax deed is
  152  made.—
  153         (3)When sending or serving a notice under this section,
  154  the clerk of the circuit court may rely on the addresses
  155  provided by the tax collector based on the certified tax roll
  156  and property information reports. The clerk of the circuit court
  157  has no duty to seek further information as to the validity of
  158  such addresses because property owners are presumed to know that
  159  taxes are due and payable annually under s. 197.122.
  160         Section 3. Subsections (2) and (3) of section 197.582,
  161  Florida Statutes, are amended, and subsections (4) through (9)
  162  are added to that section, to read:
  163         197.582 Disbursement of proceeds of sale.—
  164         (2)(a) If the property is purchased for an amount in excess
  165  of the statutory bid of the certificateholder, the surplus
  166  excess must be paid over and disbursed by the clerk as set forth
  167  in subsections (3), (5), and (6). If the opening bid included
  168  the homestead assessment pursuant to s. 197.502(6)(c). If the
  169  property purchased is homestead property and the statutory bid
  170  includes an amount equal to at least one-half of the assessed
  171  value of the homestead, that amount must be treated as surplus
  172  excess and distributed in the same manner. The clerk shall
  173  distribute the surplus excess to the governmental units for the
  174  payment of any lien of record held by a governmental unit
  175  against the property, including any tax certificates not
  176  incorporated in the tax deed application and omitted taxes, if
  177  any. If the excess is not sufficient to pay all of such liens in
  178  full, the excess shall be paid to each governmental unit pro
  179  rata. If, after all liens of governmental units are paid in
  180  full, there remains a balance of undistributed funds, the
  181  balance must shall be retained by the clerk for the benefit of
  182  persons described in s. 197.522(1)(a), except those persons
  183  described in s. 197.502(4)(h), as their interests may appear.
  184  The clerk shall mail notices to such persons notifying them of
  185  the funds held for their benefit at the addresses provided in s.
  186  197.502(4). Such notice constitutes compliance with the
  187  requirements of s. 717.117(4). Any service charges, at the rate
  188  prescribed in s. 28.24(10), and costs of mailing notices shall
  189  be paid out of the excess balance held by the clerk. Notice must
  190  be provided in substantially the following form:
  192             NOTICE OF SURPLUS FUNDS FROM TAX DEED SALE            
  193         CLERK OF COURT
  194         .... COUNTY, FLORIDA
  196         Tax Deed #:....
  197         Certificate #:....
  198         Property Description:....
  199         Pursuant to chapter 197, Florida Statutes, the above
  200  property was sold at public sale on ...(date of sale)..., and a
  201  surplus of $...(amount)... (subject to change) will be held by
  202  this office for 120 days beginning on the date of this notice to
  203  benefit the persons having an interest in this property as
  204  described in section 197.502(4), Florida Statutes, as their
  205  interests may appear (except for those persons described in
  206  section 197.502(4)(h), Florida Statutes).
  207         To the extent possible, these funds will be used to satisfy
  208  in full each claimant with a senior mortgage or lien in the
  209  property before distribution of any funds to any junior mortgage
  210  or lien claimant or to the former property owner. To be
  211  considered for funds when they are distributed, you must file a
  212  notarized statement of claim with this office within 120 days of
  213  this notice. If you are a lienholder, your claim must include
  214  the particulars of your lien and the amounts currently due. Any
  215  lienholder claim that is not filed within the 120-day deadline
  216  is barred.
  217         A copy of this notice must be attached to your statement of
  218  claim. After the office examines the filed claim statements, it
  219  will notify you if you are entitled to any payment.
  220         Dated:....
  221         Clerk of Court
  223         (b)The mailed notice must include a form for making a
  224  claim under subsection (3). Service charges at the rate set
  225  forth in s. 28.24(10) and the costs of mailing must be paid out
  226  of the surplus funds held by the clerk. If the clerk or
  227  comptroller certifies that the surplus funds are not sufficient
  228  to cover the service charges and mailing costs, the clerk shall
  229  receive the total amount of surplus funds as a service charge.
  230  Excess proceeds shall be held and disbursed in the same manner
  231  as unclaimed redemption moneys in s. 197.473. For purposes of
  232  identifying unclaimed property pursuant to s. 717.113, excess
  233  proceeds shall be presumed payable or distributable on the date
  234  the notice is sent. If excess proceeds are not sufficient to
  235  cover the service charges and mailing costs, the clerk shall
  236  receive the total amount of excess proceeds as a service charge.
  237         (3)A person receiving the notice under subsection (2) has
  238  120 days from the date of the notice to file a written claim
  239  with the clerk for the surplus proceeds. A claim in
  240  substantially the following form is deemed sufficient:
  243         Complete and return to:....
  244         By mail:....
  245         By e-mail:....
  246         Note: The Clerk of the Court must pay all valid liens
  247  before distributing surplus funds to a titleholder.
  248         Claimant’s name:....
  249         Contact name, if applicable:....
  250         Address:....
  251         Telephone Number:.... E-mail Address:....
  252         Tax No.:....
  253         Date of sale (if known):....
  254  .... I am not making a claim and waive any claim I might have to
  255  the surplus funds on this tax deed sale.
  256  .... I claim surplus proceeds resulting from the above tax deed
  257  sale.
  258         I am a (check one) ....Lienholder; ....Titleholder.
  259         (1)LIENHOLDER INFORMATION (Complete if claim is based on a
  260  lien against the sold property).
  261         (a)Type of Lien: ....Mortgage; ....Court Judgment;
  262  ....Other
  263         Describe in detail:....
  264         If your lien is recorded in the county’s official records,
  265  list the following, if known:
  266         Recording date:....; Instrument #:....; Book #:....; Page
  267  #:....
  268         (b)Original amount of lien: $....
  269         (c)Amounts due: $....
  270         1.Principal remaining due: $....
  271         2.Interest due: $....
  272         3.Fees and costs due, including late fees: $.... (describe
  273  costs in detail, include additional sheet if needed);
  274         4.Attorney fees: $....(provide amount claimed): $....
  275         (2)TITLEHOLDER INFORMATION (Complete if claim is based on
  276  title formerly held on sold property.)
  277         (a)Nature of title (check one): ....Deed; ....Court
  278  Judgment; ....Other (describe in detail):....
  279         (b)If your former title is recorded in the county’s
  280  official records, list the following, if known: Recording
  281  date:....; Instrument#:....; Book #:....; Page #:....
  282         (c)Amount of surplus tax deed sale proceeds claimed: $....
  283         (d)Does the titleholder claim the subject property was
  284  homestead property? ....Yes ....No.
  285         (3)I hereby swear or affirm that all of the above
  286  information is true and correct.
  287         Date:....
  288         Signature:....
  289         STATE OF FLORIDA
  290         .... COUNTY.
  291         Sworn to or affirmed and signed before me on ...(date)...
  292  by ...(name of affiant)...
  294         ...(Print, Type, or Stamp Commissioned Name of Notary)...
  295         .... Personally known, or
  296         .... Produced identification;
  297         Identification Produced:....
  299         (4)A claim may be:
  300         (a)Mailed using the United States Postal Service. The
  301  filing date is the postmark on the mailed claim;
  302         (b)Delivered using either a commercial delivery service or
  303  in person. The filing date is the day of delivery; or
  304         (c)Sent by fax or e-mail, as authorized by the clerk. The
  305  filing date is the date the clerk receives the fax or e-mail.
  306         (5)Except for claims by a property owner, claims that are
  307  not filed on or before close of business on the 120th day after
  308  the date of the mailed notice as required by s. 197.582(2) are
  309  barred. A person, other than the property owner, who fails to
  310  file a proper and timely claim is barred from receiving any
  311  disbursement of the surplus funds. The failure of any person
  312  described in s. 197.502(4), other than the property owner, to
  313  file a claim for surplus funds within the 120 days constitutes a
  314  waiver of interest in the surplus funds and all claims thereto
  315  are forever barred.
  316         (6)Within 90 days after the claim period expires, the
  317  clerk may either file an interpleader action in circuit court to
  318  determine the proper disbursement or pay the surplus funds
  319  according to the clerk’s determination of the priority of claims
  320  using the information provided by the claimants under subsection
  321  (3). The clerk may move the court to award reasonable fees and
  322  costs from the interpleaded funds. An action to require payment
  323  of surplus funds is not ripe until the claim and review periods
  324  expire. The failure of a person described in s. 197.502(4),
  325  other than the property owner, to file a claim for surplus funds
  326  within the 120 days constitutes a waiver of all interest in the
  327  surplus funds and all claims for them are forever barred.
  328         (7)A holder of a recorded governmental lien, other than a
  329  federal government lien or ad valorem tax lien, must file a
  330  request for disbursement of surplus funds within 120 days after
  331  the mailing of the notice of surplus funds. The clerk or
  332  comptroller must disburse payments to each governmental unit to
  333  pay any lien of record held by a governmental unit against the
  334  property, including any tax certificate not incorporated in the
  335  tax deed application and any omitted taxes, before disbursing
  336  the surplus funds to nongovernmental claimants.
  337         (8)The tax deed recipient may directly pay off all liens
  338  to governmental units that could otherwise have been requested
  339  from surplus funds, and, upon filing a timely claim under
  340  subsection (3) with proof of payment, the tax deed recipient may
  341  receive the same amount of funds from the surplus funds for all
  342  amounts paid to each governmental unit in the same priority as
  343  the original lienholder.
  344         (9)If the clerk does not receive claims for surplus funds
  345  within the 120-day claim period, as required in subsection (5),
  346  there is a conclusive presumption that the legal titleholder of
  347  record described in s. 197.502(4)(a) is entitled to the surplus
  348  funds. The clerk must process the surplus funds in the manner
  349  provided in chapter 717, regardless of whether the legal
  350  titleholder is a resident of the state or not.
  351         (3)If unresolved claims against the property exist on the
  352  date the property is purchased, the clerk shall ensure that the
  353  excess funds are paid according to the priorities of the claims.
  354  If a lien appears to be entitled to priority and the lienholder
  355  has not made a claim against the excess funds, payment may not
  356  be made on any lien that is junior in priority. If potentially
  357  conflicting claims to the funds exist, the clerk may initiate an
  358  interpleader action against the lienholders involved, and the
  359  court shall determine the proper distribution of the
  360  interpleaded funds. The clerk may move the court for an award of
  361  reasonable fees and costs from the interpleaded funds.
  362         Section 4. This act applies to tax deed applications filed
  363  on or after October 1, 2018, with the tax collector pursuant to
  364  s. 197.502, Florida Statutes.
  365         Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2018.