A little-known law, which can present big problems for planned residential and commercial subdivisions, has undergone a number of recent changes intended to make it more manageable and less impactful on the associations which oversee or manage planned residential and commercial subdivisions.
While the law, commonly known as MRTA and formally known as the Marketable Record Title Act at Chapter 712, Florida Statutes, has been in effect in Florida since 1966 and is often overlooked and frequently misunderstood. What MRTA provides at its most basic level is that the title to real property can, with the passage of enough time and under certain circumstances, become free and clear of certain recorded claims, restrictions and covenants that would otherwise be binding on the property. Among the types of claims that can become extinguished or no longer binding and effective as to real property are claims, restrictions, and covenants that arise out of declarations and similar recorded instruments that are initially recorded at the development phase of planned residential and commercial subdivisions. For this reason, the need for residential and commercial property owners’ associations to ensure that the recorded declaration and other, similar recorded instruments have not been, or are not on the verge of being, impacted by MRTA is of vital importance for the continued operation of the planned residential and commercial subdivisions they oversee.
Some recent changes to MRTA took effect on October 1, 2018 and were intended to make MRTA and its potential impact on community associations more manageable. One change was the addition of a new provision to the Homeowners’ Association Act (Chapter 720, Florida Statutes) to put homeowners’ associations on notice of how MRTA may impact their governing documents, to require the board of directors to look into potential MRTA issues each year, and to provide a form that could be used and recorded to address MRTA issues. It is also now an option for homeowners’ association to preserve their recorded governing documents under the requirements of MTRA in the course of adopting amendments to their recorded governing documents. Another change was the expansion of the right to preserve recorded claims, restrictions and covenants to voluntary property owners’ associations and the expansion of the right to preserve and revitalize expired or extinguished recorded claims, restrictions and covenants to commercial property owners’ associations. Finally, the recent changes to MRTA from 2018 also addressed ambiguities or uncertainties in the existing requirements for preserving recorded claims, restrictions and covenants.
Because of the potential for MRTA to have a tremendous impact on planned residential and commercial subdivisions by potentially allowing any recorded claims, restrictions and covenants to become extinguished as to the property in these subdivisions, residential and commercial property owners’ associations must be vigilant about MRTA and consult with their attorney to ensure that action will be taken to avoid the consequences of MRTA.