It’s crucial to understand what a seller’s obligation (specifically the seller disclosure in Florida) on a real estate property before selling the home to the buyer. In order to protect buyers from home title disputes, property defects, and such, it’s the seller’s responsibility to disclose vital information about the property they are trying to market.
If you are selling a property in Florida, here are all the seller disclosure requirements you need to know:
- Federal Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards
- Seller’s Property Condition Disclosure Statement
- Condominium Disclosure Statement
Did you know Houzeo’s Gold Plan provides relevant Federal and State Seller Disclosures?
Federal Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards
The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act passed in 1992 requires the disclosure of any lead-based paint or chipped paint in any housing built before 1978.
It’s required for sellers under federal law to comply with lead-based paint disclosure. It’s the seller’s obligation to disclose or notify any actual information he has about the presence of any lead-based paint or chipped paint in the property that may risk health-related concerns (such as lead poisoning).
The seller may offer a 10-day period for the buyer to complete a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint or lead-based hazards. You can get a lead hazard inspection firm through here.
Seller’s Property Condition Disclosure Statement
Florida, like most other states, requires homeowners to disclose certain conditions or defects (especially those that may not be visible) to the buyer. A Seller’s Property Disclosure Form requires that sellers disclose any known property defects and issues involving Florida residential estate; sellers who failed to comply with the said obligations can receive severe consequences.
The Sellers Property Disclosure Statement identifies any known information that would affect the buyer’s decision if they knew about it. This information is collectively known as material facts. Although it is the seller’s obligation to tell his buyers about any known issues with the property, he does not have to go out of his way to find problems to disclose by hiring his own inspector.
As a seller and as the only source of all the information in this form, you are obliged to state the following:
Environmental Hazards. These are health-related issues that may affect a person’s physical, mental, and social well-being, such as mold, lead, asbestos, etc.
Essential Property Components. These are the main problems that could critically damage the house in the long run (such as ceiling, cracks in the foundation, electrical wiring, plumbing, and as well as the HVAC system.
Insect or Pest Infestations. One of the most expensive issue to remedy that’s also important to this list. This is considered a major defect that can cause wood rot or moisture that may affect the home’s present value.
Sinkholes. Any previous or current sinkholes must be disclosed and discussed before signing any contract. It’s a scary threat that is most common to Florida (with more than 6,000 occurring per year).
Property Boundary Dispute. It’s imperative that the sellers should also divulge information on property deed and survey.
Legal Claims Against Your Property. There’s also a need to disclose (either pending or current) legal claim that could affect your transaction of the property.
Homeowners Associations. (Florida Statute §720.401) Also, sellers should never forget to disclose the Homeowners Association (HOA) documents as part of the home sale since it’s the buyer’s right to review the CCRs (Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions) before closing the deal.
Environmental Radiation Standards. Under Florida Statute §404.056(5), the seller should disclose in writing—if any—defects or dangers that can be associated with radon gas.
Coastal Hazards Disclosure Statements. Governed by the Florida Statute §161.57, it is a law that requires real estate seller to inform any possible coastal erosion, where “The property being purchased may be subject to coastal erosion and to federal, state, or local regulations that govern coastal property”
Condominium Disclosure Statement
The Florida Condo Disclosures Statement Under Chapter 718 Section 503 of the Florida Statutes (1), (2), and (3), the law requires the sellers and developers to notify specific details about condo unit ownership that includes the property management details, contracts, timeshares, legal ownership, right to review recreational condo leases, and the right to evaluate association documents and bylaws.
Accordingly, the buyer should request the condominium documents in writing to enable the 3-day right of the rescission period—that is the buyer acknowledges that he has been provided with the documents more than 3-days before the signing of the contract. Remember, the seller should prepare all the required condominium governing documents before listing the unit for sale so the papers are available in no time. Such failure to comply with the required disclosure documents can void the sale.
The following information that a seller is required to disclose as part of Florida’s Condo Disclosure Statement are:
- Condominium association documents
- Claims and assessments
- Material Alterations to unit
- Termites, Dry Rot, Pests, Wood Destroying Organisms
- Plumbing-Related Items
- Major Appliances
- Electrical System
- Heating and Air Conditioning
- Fire Sprinkler
B. Limited Common Elements
C. Common Elements
- Structure-Related Items
- Alteration/Conveyance of Common Elements
- Coastal Construction Control Line
D. Coastal Construction Control Line
- Condominium assessment fee
- Master association fee
- Common element use fee
- Limited common element use fee
What if the seller fails to disclose any of this information?
If under such circumstances the buyer has not been informed about a material issue related to the property in Florida, the buyer can sue the seller for money damages and withdraw the property deal. But before a lawsuit may begin, it’s obligatory to most disputes be mediated (either the mistake was deliberate or unintentional).
As a home seller, you also have the legal protection to declare not be held responsible for home defects that you are fully unaware of. Nevertheless, once the buyer claims to have discovered a property issue that you did not disclose in detail and proper manner, the buyer must be able to prove that (1) you are fully aware of the property defect. (2) The said defect has a major impact on the property’s condition. (3) The buyer has no actual knowledge of the defect. (4) A certain property defect can’t be easily discovered or found. (5) The seller simply didn’t inform the buyer about the defect.
It’s also a good choice to ask for advice with a professional Florida real estate lawyer to understand and learn more about your rights (more importantly about the seller disclosure in Florida).
However, there are property defects that are not necessarily required to be disclosed to the buyer under Florida law. As mentioned in Florida Statute 689.25, disclosure of any deaths, suicide, homicide, or diagnosis of HIV or AIDS infection is not specifically complied to disclose in real estate transactions.
Florida Statute 689.25 states that:
(1)(a) The fact that an occupant of real property is infected or has been infected with human immunodeficiency virus or diagnosed with acquired immune deficiency syndrome is not a material fact that must be disclosed in a real estate transaction.
(b) The fact that a property was, or was at any time suspected to have been, the site of a homicide, suicide, or death is not a material fact that must be disclosed in a real estate transaction.
(2) A cause of action shall not arise against an owner of real property, his or her agent, an agent of a transferee of real property, or a person licensed under chapter 475 for the failure to disclose to the transferee that the property was or was suspected to have been the site of a homicide, suicide, or death or that an occupant of that property was infected with human immunodeficiency virus or diagnosed with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
As mentioned by the Florida Supreme Court in Johnson v. Davis
One should not be able to stand behind the impervious shield of caveat emptor and take advantage of another’s ignorance. Our courts have taken great strides since the days when the judicial emphasis was on rigid rules and ancient precedents. Modern concepts of justice and fair dealing have given our courts the opportunity and latitude to change legal precepts in order to conform to society’s needs. Thus, the tendency of the more recent cases has been to restrict rather than extend the doctrine of caveat emptor. The law appears to be working toward the ultimate conclusion that full disclosure of all material facts must be made whenever elementary fair conduct demands it.
It’s also a good idea to seek guidance from some experienced real estate lawyer before signing any contracts (or thoroughly review the seller disclosure in Florida). After all, you are just making sure you get the process right and want to avoid any future complications, such as potential claims and litigation. Thus, making both seller and buyer satisfied with the outcome of the transaction.
Did you know Houzeo’s Gold Plan provides relevant Federal and State Seller Disclosures?
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