July 2015 Florida Real Estate Case Law Updates

Daniel PascaleBy: Daniel T. Pascale, Esq.

Offices located in Delray Beach and Coral Gables, FL

Foreclosure Sale Notice

Skelton v. Lyons, 157 So. 3d 471(Fla. 2d DCA 2015)

Background: Debtor filed objection to foreclosure sale of property. The Circuit Court sustained the objection and set aside the foreclosure sale. Third-party purchaser appealed.

Holding: The District Court of Appeal held that the failure to serve third-party purchaser with notice of either debtor’s objection to foreclosure sale or the hearing held on the objection violated purchaser’s due process rights, and the debtor’s objection to foreclosure sale was insufficient as a matter of law.

Common Law Claims Precluded by Construction Lien Statute

Jax Utilities Management, Inc. v. Hancock Bank, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D948 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015)

Background: Contractor brought an action against construction loan lender asserting equitable lien and unjust enrichment claims. The Circuit Court granted summary judgment for the lender and the contractor appealed.

Holding: The District Court of Appeal held that the one-year statute of limitations began to run from last furnishing of labor, services, or material for the improvement of real property, barring contractor’s equitable lien claim, and, as a matter of first impression, statute governing responsibilities of construction loan lenders precluded contractor’s common law claims.

Widow Entitled to Benefit of Husband’s Homestead Exemption

Kelly v. Spain, 160 So.3d 78 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015)

Background: Following revocation of her homestead exemption after the death of her husband, taxpayer brought action against property appraiser and tax collector seeking a declaration that she was entitled to exemption. The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court, entered summary judgment in favor of taxpayer. Appraiser and collector appealed.

Holding: The District Court of Appeal held that death of husband of taxpayer, who owned property as a tenant by the entirety and continued to occupy home on property as her primary residence, was not an “ownership change” within meaning of statute governing homestead renewal procedure, and thus taxpayer, who had not filed her own homestead exemption, was not required to submit renewal application.

Equitable Ownership of Leasehold Property Determines Immunity from Taxation

Russell v. Southeast Housing, LLC, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D621 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015)

Background: For-profit corporation, created by United States Navy and private developer pursuant to their public-private partnership to improve Navy’s five military complexes, challenged county property appraiser’s decision to tax the improvements. Following a bench trial, the Circuit Court entered final judgment for corporation. Appraiser appealed.

Holdings: The District Court of Appeal held that the Navy had retained equitable ownership of the properties, therefore properties were immune from Florida ad valorem taxes, and the Navy had not consented to be taxed.