By: Katelyn J. Dougherty, Esq.
Florida’s legal landscape is constantly evolving to address the needs and challenges faced by its residents. A notable change is set to take effect at the start of 2024, targeting the increasing issue of property fraud. This change pertains to FL Statute 695.26, which governs the recording of deeds. This blog aims to inform those in real estate to understand and adapt to the new requirements.
Understanding FL Statute 695.26: The Foundation
Before delving into the changes, it’s essential to understand the basis of FL Statute 695.26. This statute outlines the legal requirements for recording property deeds in Florida. A deed, which is a legal document used to transfer property ownership, must meet certain criteria to be recorded and recognized legally.
The Current State of Affairs
As of now, the statute mandates the following for a deed to be valid:
It’s important to ensure that all these requirements are met to avoid any legal issues regarding the property transfer. For specific situations or complex cases, it’s advisable to consult with a real estate attorney.
So, what’s changing in 2024? The rules for Witnesses.
Currently, the following is required of a witness for a deed to be valid:
These existing stipulations ensure a basic level of verification and authenticity in property transactions.
The 2024 Amendment: A Step Towards Enhanced Security
The upcoming amendment to FL Statute 695.26, effective January 1, 2024, introduces an additional requirement in the deed recording process. Here’s what’s new:
For the “post office address” requirement concerning witnesses, there is no specific mandate for a home, business, or post office box address; hence, any valid address should be acceptable. However, the interpretation of what constitutes a valid “post office address” might differ based on the guidelines of the particular recording office involved.
Why This Change Matters
The rationale behind this amendment is straightforward yet impactful. By mandating the inclusion of a witness’s post office address, the state aims to:
Implications for Stakeholders in Real Estate Transactions
This amendment has practical implications for various stakeholders, including property owners, buyers, attorneys, and real estate agents:
Preparing for the Change
As January 1, 2024, approaches, it’s crucial for those involved in real estate transactions to familiarize themselves with this change. Legal professionals, in particular, should update their practices and inform clients about this new requirement. Ensuring deeds are prepared correctly under the amended statute will be key to smooth property transactions.
The amendment to FL Statute 695.26 reflects Florida’s proactive approach to securing property transactions and protecting its citizens from fraud. While it introduces an additional requirement in the deed recording process, its benefits in enhancing security and authenticity are undeniable. As we move towards a more secure real estate environment, understanding and adapting to these changes will be essential for all involved parties.
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