November 11, 2019
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The Florida Statutes

The 2003 Florida Statutes

Title XL
REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY
Chapter 721
VACATION AND TIMESHARE PLANS
View Entire Chapter
Section 721.08, Florida Statutes 2003

721.08  Escrow accounts; nondisturbance instruments; alternate security arrangements; transfer of legal title.--

(1)  Prior to the filing of a registered public offering statement with the division, all developers shall establish an escrow account with an escrow agent for the purpose of protecting the funds or other property of purchasers required to be escrowed by this section. An escrow agent shall maintain the accounts called for in this section only in such a manner as to be under the direct supervision and control of the escrow agent. The escrow agent shall have a fiduciary duty to each purchaser to maintain the escrow accounts in accordance with good accounting practices and to release the purchaser's funds or other property from escrow only in accordance with this chapter. The escrow agent shall retain all affidavits received pursuant to this section for a period of 5 years. Should the escrow agent receive conflicting demands for funds or property held in escrow, the escrow agent shall immediately notify the division of the dispute and either promptly submit the matter to arbitration or, by interpleader or otherwise, seek an adjudication of the matter by court.

(2)  One hundred percent of all funds or other property which is received from or on behalf of purchasers of the timeshare plan or timeshare interest prior to the occurrence of events required in this subsection shall be deposited pursuant to an escrow agreement approved by the division. The escrow agreement shall provide that the funds or property may be released from escrow only as follows:

(a)  Cancellation.--In the event a purchaser gives a valid notice of cancellation pursuant to s. 721.10 or is otherwise entitled to cancel the sale, the funds or property received from or on behalf of the purchaser, or the proceeds thereof, shall be returned to the purchaser. Such refund shall be made within 20 days of demand therefor by the purchaser or within 5 days after receipt of funds from the purchaser's cleared check, whichever is later. If the purchaser has received benefits under the contract prior to the effective date of the cancellation, the funds or property to be returned to the purchaser may be reduced by the proportion of contract benefits actually received.

(b)  Purchaser's default.--Following expiration of the 10-day cancellation period, if the purchaser defaults in the performance of her or his obligations under the terms of the contract to purchase or such other agreement by which a seller sells the timeshare interest, the developer shall provide an affidavit to the escrow agent requesting release of the escrowed funds or property and shall provide a copy of such affidavit to the purchaser who has defaulted. The developer's affidavit, as required herein, shall include:

1.  A statement that the purchaser has defaulted and that the developer has not defaulted;

2.  A brief explanation of the nature of the default and the date of its occurrence;

3.  A statement that pursuant to the terms of the contract the developer is entitled to the funds held by the escrow agent; and

4.  A statement that the developer has not received from the purchaser any written notice of a dispute between the purchaser and developer or a claim by the purchaser to the escrow.

(c)  Compliance with conditions.--

1.  If the timeshare plan is one in which timeshare licenses are to be sold and no cancellation or default has occurred, the escrow agent may release the escrowed funds or property upon presentation of:

a.  An affidavit by the developer that all of the following conditions have been met:

(I)  Expiration of the cancellation period.

(II)  Completion of construction.

(III)  Closing.

(IV)  Either execution and recordation by each interestholder of the nondisturbance and notice to creditors instrument, as described in this section or, alternatively, transfer by the developer of legal title to the subject accommodations and facilities, or all use rights therein, to a trust satisfying the requirements of sub-subparagraph 3.b. and the execution and recordation by each other interestholder of the nondisturbance and notice to creditors instrument, as described in this section.

b.  A certified copy of the recorded nondisturbance and notice to creditors instrument that complies with subsection (3).

c.  One of the following:

(I)  A copy of a memorandum of agreement, as defined in s. 721.05(21), together with satisfactory evidence that the original memorandum of agreement has been irretrievably delivered for recording to the appropriate official responsible for maintaining the public records in the county in which the subject accommodations and facilities are located. The original memorandum of agreement must be recorded within 180 days after the date on which the purchaser executed her or his purchase agreement.

(II)  A notice delivered for recording to the appropriate official responsible for maintaining the public records in each county in which the subject accommodations and facilities are located notifying all persons of the identity of an independent escrow agent or trustee satisfying the requirements of sub-subparagraph 3.b. that shall maintain separate books and records, in accordance with good accounting practices, for the timeshare plan in which timeshare licenses are to be sold. The books and records shall indicate each accommodation and facility that is subject to such a timeshare plan and each purchaser of a timeshare license in the timeshare plan.

2.  If the timeshare plan is one in which timeshare estates are to be sold, other than interests in a trust pursuant to subparagraph 3., and no cancellation or default has occurred, the escrow agent may release the escrowed funds or property upon presentation of:

a.  An affidavit by the developer that all of the following conditions have been met:

(I)  Expiration of the cancellation period.

(II)  Completion of construction.

(III)  Closing.

b.  If the timeshare estate is sold by agreement for deed, a certified copy of the recorded nondisturbance and notice to creditors instrument, as described in this section.

c.  Evidence that the timeshare estate is free and clear of the claims of any interestholders, other than the claims of interestholders that, through a recorded instrument, are irrevocably made subject to the timeshare instrument and the use rights of purchasers made available through the timeshare instrument, or that are the subject of a recorded nondisturbance and notice to creditors instrument that complies with subsection (3).

3.  If the timeshare plan is one in which timeshare estates are to be sold as interests in a trust that complies in all respects with the provisions of sub-subparagraph b., and no cancellation or default has occurred, the escrow agent may release the escrowed funds or property upon presentation of:

a.  An affidavit by the developer that all of the following conditions have been met:

(I)  Expiration of the cancellation period.

(II)  Completion of construction.

(III)  Transfer of the subject accommodations and facilities, or all use rights therein, to the trust.

(IV)  Closing.

b.  Prior to the transfer by each interestholder of the subject accommodations and facilities, or all use rights therein, to a trust, any lien or other encumbrance against such accommodations and facilities, or use rights therein, shall be made subject to a nondisturbance and notice to creditors instrument as described in this section. No transfer pursuant to this sub-subparagraph shall become effective until the trustee accepts such transfer and the responsibilities set forth herein. A trust established pursuant to this sub-subparagraph shall comply with the following provisions:

(I)  The trustee shall be an individual or a business entity authorized and qualified to conduct trust business in this state. Any corporation authorized to do business in this state may act as trustee in connection with a timeshare plan pursuant to this chapter. The trustee must be independent from any developer or managing entity of the timeshare plan or any interestholder of any accommodation or facility of such plan.

(II)  The trust shall be irrevocable so long as any purchaser has a right to occupy any portion of the timeshare property pursuant to the timeshare plan.

(III)  The trustee shall not convey, hypothecate, mortgage, assign, lease, or otherwise transfer or encumber in any fashion any interest in or portion of the timeshare property with respect to which any purchaser has a right of use or occupancy unless the timeshare plan is terminated pursuant to the timeshare instrument, or such conveyance, hypothecation, mortgage, assignment, lease, transfer, or encumbrance is approved by a vote of two-thirds of all voting interests of the timeshare plan and such decision is declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be in the best interests of the purchasers of the timeshare plan. The trustee shall notify the division in writing within 10 days of receiving notice of the filing of any petition relating to obtaining such a court order. The division shall have standing to advise the court of the division's interpretation of the statute as it relates to the petition.

(IV)  All purchasers of the timeshare plan or the owners' association of the timeshare plan shall be the express beneficiaries of the trust. The trustee shall act as a fiduciary to the beneficiaries of the trust. The personal liability of the trustee shall be governed by s. 737.306. The agreement establishing the trust shall set forth the duties of the trustee. The trustee shall be required to furnish promptly to the division upon request a copy of the complete list of the names and addresses of the owners in the timeshare plan and a copy of any other books and records of the timeshare plan required to be maintained pursuant to s. 721.13 that are in the possession, custody, or control of the trustee. All expenses reasonably incurred by the trustee in the performance of its duties, together with any reasonable compensation of the trustee, shall be common expenses of the timeshare plan.

(V)  The trustee shall not resign upon less than 90 days' prior written notice to the managing entity and the division. No resignation shall become effective until a substitute trustee, approved by the division, is appointed by the managing entity and accepts the appointment.

(VI)  The documents establishing the trust arrangement shall constitute a part of the timeshare instrument.

(VII)  For trusts holding property in a timeshare plan located outside this state, the trust holding such property shall be deemed in compliance with the requirements of this subparagraph if such trust is authorized and qualified to conduct trust business under the laws of such jurisdiction and the agreement or law governing such trust arrangement provides substantially similar protections for the purchaser as are required in this subparagraph for trusts holding property in a timeshare plan in this state.

(VIII)  The trustee shall have appointed a registered agent in this state for service of process. In the event such a registered agent is not appointed, service of process may be served pursuant to s. 721.265.

4.  If the developer has previously provided a certified copy of any document required by this paragraph, she or he may for all subsequent disbursements substitute a true and correct copy of the certified copy, provided no changes to the document have been made or are required to be made.

(3)  The nondisturbance and notice to creditors instrument, when required, shall be executed by each interestholder. The instrument shall state that:

(a)  If the party seeking enforcement is not in default of its obligations, the instrument may be enforced by both the seller and any purchaser of the timeshare plan;

(b)  The instrument shall be effective as between the timeshare purchaser and interestholder despite any rejection or cancellation of the contract between the timeshare purchaser and developer as a result of bankruptcy proceedings of the developer; and

(c)  So long as the interestholder has any interest in the accommodations, facilities, or plan, the interestholder will fully honor all the rights of the timeshare purchasers in and to the timeshare plan, will honor the purchasers' right to cancel their contracts and receive appropriate refunds, and will comply with all other requirements of this chapter and rules promulgated hereunder.

The instrument shall contain language sufficient to provide subsequent creditors of the developer and interestholders with notice of the existence of the timeshare plan and of the rights of purchasers and shall serve to protect the interest of the timeshare purchasers from any claims of subsequent creditors. A copy of the recorded nondisturbance and notice to creditors instrument, when required, shall be provided to each timeshare purchaser at the time the purchase contract is executed.

(4)  In lieu of any escrow provisions required by this act, the director of the division shall have the discretion to permit deposit of the funds or other property in an escrow account as required by the jurisdiction in which the sale took place.

(5)(a)  In lieu of any escrows required by this section, the director of the division shall have the discretion to accept other assurances, including, but not limited to, a surety bond issued by a company authorized and licensed to do business in this state as surety or an irrevocable letter of credit in an amount equal to the escrow requirements of this section.

(b)  Notwithstanding anything in chapter 718 or chapter 719 to the contrary, the director of the division shall have the discretion to accept other assurances pursuant to paragraph (a) in lieu of any requirement that completion of construction of one or more accommodations or facilities of a timeshare plan be accomplished prior to closing.

(6)  An escrow agent holding funds escrowed pursuant to this section may invest such escrowed funds in securities of the United States Government, or any agency thereof, or in savings or time deposits in institutions insured by an agency of the United States Government. The right to receive the interest generated by any such investments shall be paid to the party to whom the escrowed funds or property are paid unless otherwise specified by contract.

(7)  Each escrow agent shall maintain separate books and records for each timeshare plan and shall maintain such books and records in accordance with good accounting practices.

(8)  An escrow agent holding escrowed funds pursuant to this chapter that have not been claimed for a period of 5 years after the date of deposit shall make at least one reasonable attempt to deliver such unclaimed funds to the purchaser who submitted such funds to escrow. In making such attempt, an escrow agent is entitled to rely on a purchaser's last known address as set forth in the books and records of the escrow agent and is not required to conduct any further search for the purchaser. If an escrow agent's attempt to deliver unclaimed funds to any purchaser is unsuccessful, the escrow agent may deliver such unclaimed funds to the division and the division shall deposit such unclaimed funds in the Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums, and Mobile Homes Trust Fund, 30 days after giving notice in a publication of general circulation in the county in which the timeshare property containing the purchaser's timeshare interest is located. The purchaser may claim the same at any time prior to the delivery of such funds to the division. After delivery of such funds to the division, the purchaser shall have no more rights to the unclaimed funds. The escrow agent shall not be liable for any claims from any party arising out of the escrow agent's delivery of the unclaimed funds to the division pursuant to this section.

(9)  For each transfer of the legal title to a timeshare estate, the developer shall deliver an instrument evidencing such transfer to the purchaser or to the clerk of the court for recording.

(10)  Any developer, seller, or escrow agent who intentionally fails to comply with the provisions of this section concerning the establishment of an escrow account, deposits of funds into escrow, and withdrawal therefrom is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, or the successor thereof. The failure to establish an escrow account or to place funds therein as required in this section is prima facie evidence of an intentional and purposeful violation of this section.

History.--s. 1, ch. 81-172; s. 49, ch. 83-215; s. 7, ch. 83-264; s. 4, ch. 84-256; s. 49, ch. 85-62; s. 1, ch. 87-343; s. 6, ch. 93-58; s. 8, ch. 95-274; s. 895, ch. 97-102; s. 14, ch. 2000-302.

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