By: Tony Veldkamp, 2022 RASM President
Every year, REALTORS® throughout our state visit Tallahassee to directly lobby our state lawmakers on legislative issues that directly affect REALTORS® and homeowners. In February, leaders from the REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee will travel to the state capitol to serve as advocates for our 8,300 Realtors, as well as homeowners and commercial property owners. Here are just some of the legislative priorities we will be focused on during the session.
Hometown Hero Housing Program
Our entire country is experiencing a housing supply crisis right now. These supply levels are woefully inadequate to meet current demand, pricing many individuals out of the market. We advocate for the government and local municipalities to help address these housing supply concerns, as well as increase the supply of affordable housing. This year, we are lobbying for the Florida Hometown Hero Housing Program to increase affordable housing opportunities for Florida’s front-line and emergency workers.
Water is the lifeblood of our state, and it must be protected. We’re asking our legislators to support state funding to help preserve the Everglades, protect Florida’s springs, renourish our beaches, and support other water-related projects. We continue to support legislation that addresses the escalating problem of rising sea levels, such as the Resilient Florida Grant Program. We will also be monitoring legislation regarding septic tanks to balance property rights and water quality improvements.
Business rent tax
Florida is the only state in the country to charge a “sales” tax on commercial leases, otherwise known as the business rent tax. The tax rate on business rent is currently 5.5%, and with our two counties adding another 1%, a total of 6.5% is added to the monthly rent payment. The state percentage will drop to 2% in the coming years based on the passage of Senate Bill 50 in 2021. We are grateful for the support of prior Florida Legislatures that voted to lower the state sales tax rate on commercial leases. And lowering this tax further will provide Florida businesses with the capital to hire and improve employee benefits, or invest in other ways.
The tragic Surfside condominium collapse killed 98 residents and left survivors with significant financial hurdles, calling attention to the current laws governing the construction, maintenance, and daily operation of these residential buildings. As the 2022 Florida Legislature discusses and debates condominium laws, we stand ready to provide input and guidance related to these buildings from both a REALTOR® and property owner’s perspective.
Private property rights
Technology has made it easier for homeowners to rent their property, thereby expanding housing options for individuals living in or visiting Florida. Many local governments have enacted new ordinances designed to discourage property owners from exercising their right to rent their property. We continue to support legislation that creates a statewide system for vacation rental regulations. We also support legislation that gives local governments the authority to pass ordinances related to residential properties as long as they apply to all residential properties.
I look forward to leading our REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee as we join hundreds of other REALTORS® to meet with state legislators. Citizens of Manatee and Sarasota counties can rest assured that we will be fighting for issues that directly affect them and their surrounding communities.
This article was originally published in Sarasota Herald-Tribune.