Tag Archives: Florida Statutes

Florida Sinkhole Claims on the Rise

An interesting article posted on TBO.com indicates what most of us know: that sinkhole claims are on the rise. The legislature seems to have caught on to this (probably through insurance lobbyists) and wants to evaluate where and why these claims are on the rise. We do see a common theme in this article which is that sinkhole alley  resides in Hernando, Pasco and Citrus Counties and surprise that claims in other areas of the state are becoming more common.

As we have discussed many times before, areas such as Ocala, Gainesville, The Villages, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties are equally at risk, just not as highly publicized. It is also interesting how the article discusses the difficulty they expect to have in mapping sinkhole locations due to poor and spotty records keeping systems over the years.

Finally, you see several hints from certain interviewees that fraudulent sinkhole claims are on the rise. We wonder, if you have damage that looks like it could be related to sinkhole activity such as cracks or depressions in the yard, how can you be blamed for filing a claim and getting some piece of mind? This is especially true considering the trend for carriers today, is to drop or carve out sinkhole coverage for Florida homeowners.

Read our tips on filling out a sinkhole claim.

Have a burning question you’d like to ask about sinkholes? Let us know.

Seller’s Property Disclosure in Florida: What’s Required

Seller’s Property Disclosure in Florida

When dealing with the process of purchasing a home or other types of property, you may be understandably nervous about the potential of sinkholes. Even if the inspection goes through with no symptoms of sinkholes, it can be difficult to know the history of a property. This is where a Seller’s Property Disclosure comes in. While a Seller’s Property Disclosure in Florida is not required by law, the educated buyer can still use this tool to be confident in the security of a property.

What the seller is obligated to tell you

According to the Supreme Court in the case of Johnson v. Davis, “where the seller of a home knows of facts materially affecting the value of the property which are not readily observable and are not known to the buyer, the seller is under a duty to disclose them to the buyer”.

In other words, if the seller knows about damages or repairs that have been done to the home that aren’t clear to you, whether they occurred under their ownership or a prior owner’s, they must tell you. The Seller’s¬†Property Disclosure is a great way to accomplish this without confrontation – if they refuse, take that as a sign that you should look elsewhere!

Do keep in mind that because this documentation is not a requirement, it is your responsibility to pursue it. If you have a realtor, feel free to approach this subject with them. They may also be able to answer any questions you may have about this subject.

If the seller never lived in the house

If the particular house that you are interested in purchasing is not being sold by a person who lives there by a bank or investment company, be aware that they’re not going to be as knowledgeable about the property. If the house was foreclosed on, for example, the bank will likely not be a good resource for you; the only information they might have would be an inspection, which they are not obligated to share with you, being that it’s a confidential document!

In this case, while I would still advise you have the seller fill out a Seller’s Property Disclosure form, don’t put all your confidence in this documentation. Instead, it is in your best interest to invest in an inspection yourself or even attempt to contact the neighbors who may have some knowledge to share.