TALLAHASSEE — Builders and sellers must alert buyers if they plan to keep the mineral rights beneath Florida homes, under legislation passed by state lawmakers and now awaiting the governor's approval.
Lawmakers said HB 489 came in response to a Tampa Bay Times investigation in November that found D.R. Horton, the nation's largest home builder, had retained the rights to drill, mine or explore beneath more than 2,500 Tampa Bay home sites.
Sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover, the bill passed the Senate on Monday and the House last week. It will now head to Gov. Rick Scott's desk and could become law Oct. 1.
Sellers would need to give written notice in "conspicuous, boldface type" that they planned to sever and retain the subsurface rights before prospective buyers sign a sales contract.
The disclosure would address complaints from home buyers who said they were never told that the rights to all oil, gas, phosphates and minerals underneath their home had already been handed over to the builder's energy subsidiary, DRH Energy.
Some buyers said they were told of the subsurface-rights retention only at the last moment, when they had already arranged to sell their homes.
D.R. Horton said in December it would no longer sever the mineral rights beneath Florida homes and offered to return the rights to homeowners. The Florida Attorney General's Office estimated about 18,000 homeowners were affected.
Drew Harwell can be reached at (727) 893-8252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.