Zinzow Law

New Laws To Live By

New laws to live by - Florida

In his first Inaugural Address, President Thomas Jefferson said that “a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” If 2023’s Legislative Session had a theme, perhaps this was it. Florida’s representative government listened to the will of its people who sought freedom of thought, speech and religion, freedom from oppressive taxes and fees, and freedom for their commercial enterprises. No government perfectly answers the call of all its constituents, yet the calls are near perfectly answered when those elected to serve us choose these themes over all others. Having spent a month in our state capital during this year’s session, as I do every year advocating for the construction industry, I observed this very sentiment at work. It was our government’s dedication to this high purpose that made this session so much different than many others. I hope this legislative briefing will enlighten you as I remain humbly at your service.


Justin Zinzow

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Septic Systems: You thought the Government was in your “Business” before…

How Florida Septic Regulations Affect Homeowners: 4 Things you need to know.

By: Karen Leonardo, Real Estate & Closing Attorney at Zinzow Law.

The below information is designed to help Florida Realtors and Homeowners learn about proposed government regulations and how they can hinder the sale of an existing home or the construction of a new home.

Septic System Laws Are Complex
In an attempt to protect Florida’s water systems from the ramifications of algae blooms, State and local government authorities are implementing new and more invasive oversight and regulations into homeowners’ use of sewage treatment and disposal systems (“septic systems”). The effort to reduce nitrogen pollution purportedly caused by septic systems is at the forefront of Florida’s environmental issues. As Florida Realtors and Homeowners grapple with a sea of already complex laws and regulations, even more laws are being proposed. Florida landowners with septic systems should become aware of these changes to best prepare for the expense of staying compliant. Here are four things you need to know.
Demystifying Septic System Laws, and Recommended Best Practices
  1. Establish a relationship with a reputable septic tank contractor to upkeep and maintain your septic system. A search for a licensed septic tank contractor is available at http://www.floridahealth.gov/statistics-and-data/eh-tracking-and-reporting/septic-tank-contractors.html. Your contractor can also give you guidance on how to extend the life of your system.
  2. Know which regulations and laws apply to you.
    1. Be on the lookout for a state-wide requirement for onsite inspections every five years. Onsite Inspections may take effect under a proposed bill founded on recommendations set forth by the Blue-Green Algae Task Force.
    2. Determine whether your property lies within a Priority Focus Area identified by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Septic systems in these areas are subject to additional regulation through the Water Quality Restoration Program. A PFA search is available at www.floridadep.gov/PFA map. These areas are subject to a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP), and your county may have a part to play in the enforcement of the plan.
    3. Generally, lots less than one acre in size are subject to a higher level of regulation and scrutiny.
    4. Inquire about remediation and septic to sewer conversion projects your county may consider or study. Some septic areas, particularly those within BMAP areas, may be required to connect their properties to sewer even if a functioning septic system is onsite.
  3. If you are considering building a new home that requires a septic system, you will want to avoid the headache of failing post-permitting inspections. Be sure to consult with your general contractor and a septic tank contractor to ascertain the cost of installing a system that complies with the latest recommendations and requirements set forth by the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This is especially significant on lots less than one acre.
  4. For existing septic system owners, plan for repair or replacement well in advance of an emergency. Septic systems can last up to 30 years on average with regular maintenance and upkeep; however, local county health departments have permit requirements that may demand replacement rather than repair of an existing septic system.
This information is meant for you whether you are in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, Citrus, Polk, Hernando, or any other county in Florida. If you should have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to Expert Real Estate and Title Closing Attorney Karen Leondardo at Zinzow Law. Kleonardo@zinzowlaw.com, or 727-787-3121.
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Deadline Looming – Claim Your Homestead Exemption

Deadline Looming – Claim Your Homestead Exemption

In Yesteryears, it was sweat and back-breaking hard work that allowed your name to be put on the deed to the 160 acres you could call a homestead, but those days are many decades in the past. Today, however, the homestead has a slightly different meaning. You may not be working the land in the traditional sense; you may be raising a family on a quiet cul-de-sac or living out your golden years in a condo near the beach; in Florida, your homestead is where you lay your head at night and live out your life. It is the American Dream. So, it is vital as a realtor or mortgage broker that you remind or educate your clients about Florida’s Homestead benefit and its deadlines.

The following is a take and paste reminder to share with your new Floridian Homesteader Clients, Neighbors, and Friends! Those who take advantage will thank you for the tax savings for years to come! Out-of-staters or first-time homebuyers are often unaware of the ability to file for a homestead tax exemption in the Sunshine State. This reminder may prove useful to anyone who established a new permanent home in Florida as of January 1, 2022 – including those Floridians who relocated to a new home within the State and are unaware that homestead exemptions do not automatically carry over to a new property.

Beat the rush and start the process to apply for your homestead tax exemption now! The deadline is March 1, 2022, but do not delay. Every county in Florida has its own property appraiser. Each office can have varying requirements to prove your new permanent residency, potentially creating additional steps that must be completed before submitting your application.

The best place to start gathering information is your County’s Property Appraiser’s Office and not the tax collector’s office. You can do this on their website or in person. Access to the recorded deed will be necessary to gather some of the required application information. If your title company has not mailed the original deed yet, or if it has been misplaced, you can access a copy by searching for your property through the property appraiser’s website or searching your name in the county’s official records online.

Commonly requested proof of residence includes your Driver’s license with the updated address, evidence of relinquishing your out-of-state Driver’s license, Florida vehicle tag number, Florida voter registration number, proof of payment of utilities, and bank account mailing address.

Closer to the deadline, lines can get hours long if filing in person, and the online registration process can get bogged down – and after last year’s surge in residents, who knows what to expect! So beat the rush and save some time and money by filing online or taking a trip down to your county’s government center to get ahead of the curve.

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Real Justice is Time Sensitive and We are Failing Those We are Supposed to Serve

We love our esteemed judiciary in Florida, but we love real justice more and therefore must offer observations which may be hard for some to hear.  The Honorable Chief Justice Canady astutely observed at his annual state of the judiciary that a strong and independent judicial system is necessary to preserve our great nation.  His Honor continued that the judiciary has served this function well through the era of COVID-19.  This advocate could not disagree more, but perhaps more important than an advocate’s opinion, is the opinion of the very people the system exists to serve.  It has been long said that justice delayed is justice denied.  As the Chief Justice acknowledged, “many cases will not be resolved until there is the imminent prospect of a trial.”  Our state is open for business.  We can walk into a grocery store, a hardware store, a restaurant, or a theme park, but we cannot walk into a courthouse to conduct a hearing or try a case.  The citizens of our state have real hurts, real harms, and real needs that can be resolved only by the courts, and they must be resolved now.  These very citizens are railing against and have lost faith in their judiciary.  Legal professionals all around this country are, in droves, counseling their clients to move away from the courts and toward arbitration because real justice is time sensitive.  The courts do not need resources from the legislature to tackle the mounting backlog; they need to re-open the doors of justice now.

‘Tis the Season of Miracles that Let Freedom Ring

Never Letting the “Thanks” be Taken from Thanksgiving

Saved from Darkness, Today We Give Heartfelt Thanks

We Will NEVER Forget

September 11th, a day that America will always remember. Team Z would like to ask you to take a moment of silence with us to honor all the innocent people who lost their lives on this tragic day in American history.


We will never forget. – Team Z

Florida’s Future Coastal Construction … or Lack Thereof?

Florida is one of the most tourist driven destinations in the United States. The economy thrives on the distinctive attractions this state has to offer and, of course, the patrons who invest in them. The Sunshine State attracts visitors far and wide for its beautiful beaches, shady palms, and abundant state parks. Not to mention all the snowbirds who flock here and make this their migratory home for part of the year. Needless to say, Florida’s beauty is captivating which makes it a wonderful spot to call home, the perfect place for a family vacation, or a much-needed getaway. However, being almost completely surrounded by water has made this peninsula a concern for potential sea-level rise for many years. Not to worry though, all Floridians are required to own life jackets, scuba gear, and a snorkel in case of emergency. In all seriousness, the Florida government has concerns for Florida’s future and whether this future may be underwater, at least in some places. Of course, if the government is concerned, it begs the question: should Floridians also begin to worry? To address these concerns, a new law has passed that will require consideration for possible rising sea levels and flooding prior to beginning public coastal construction projects. This law is formally known as “Senate Bill 178 – Public Financing of Construction Projects”, which passed unanimously by 153 Florida legislators and will take effect in July 2021. With the passing of Senate Bill 178, Florida’s coast will likely have a very different look in the coming years. Could this mean no more beachfront condominiums, skyrises or parking garages? While little information is known at this time how this law will directly affect Florida’s construction industry, speculation can be made that it will certainly make an impact.

As it stands, Florida’s governing body is apprehensive about the climate related changes we may see here in Florida. Much of these concerns derive from the impending financial problems and property damage caused by flooding. In addition to those looming financial issues, the state is also preparing to spend at least $4 billion to determine sea level rise solutions which would include “protecting sewage systems, raising roads, stormwater improvements and (creating) seawalls”3. While understanding and preparing for potentially devastating impacts to Florida’s ecosystem is understandably important, Senate Bill 178 is actually the “first major piece of climate-related legislation in a decade” . This legislation was implemented with the hopes of limiting damage to Florida’s structures lining the coastal regions if sea level rise were to continue. These worries are heightened as a result of the studies conducted by the various entities who observe and predict sea-level rise. These predictions, although they drastically differ in number, all seem to indicate that Florida will see higher sea levels at some point in time. That time frame, of course, also varies significantly. For instance, the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact Sea Level Rise Work Group has estimated that the rise in southeast Florida “could be as much as 6.75 ft by 2100” . Whereas the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel “anticipates a rise of 8.5 ft by the end of the century”2. This uncertainty as to how far and for how long Florida’s land boundaries may stretch is why lawmakers are proceeding with caution for future developments along Florida’s coast. The current measurements depict that Florida’s sea level has risen 8 inches since 1950 and the velocity of this rise is only increasing as the years continue . Surprisingly, scientists measure the sea level every six minutes to have an indication as to the rate these changes are actually happening3. Limiting the coastal development may prevent the need for the state step in later and fix any future damages attributed to rising sea levels. As part of the analysis conducted by the Florida Senate related to Senate Bill 178, they determined that Florida could see a property value loss as high as $300 billion by 21002. Hence, their need and desire to take these somewhat preventative measures now.

As for the requirements imposed by Senate Bill 178, these will consist of tests, scientific research, and assessment to determine how a particular construction project may be impacted by a rising sea level. These tests are called “Sea Level Impact Projections”, also known as “SLIP” studies. These studies are supposed to assess the “flooding, inundation, and wave action damage risks relating to the coastal structure over its expected life or 50 years, whichever is less” . In addition to that, the assessment must also ascertain the “potential public safety and environmental impacts resulting from damage to the coastal structure, including, but not limited to, leakage of pollutants, electrocution and explosion hazards, and hazards resulting from floating or flying structural debris”4. As of now, there is not a lot of information on the exact standards of these SLIP studies and how they may impact construction projects. However, it is known is that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is responsible for developing those standards and establishing the requirements that state-financed constructors will need to abide by prior to commencing work on a project. With that being said, the FDEP will also have the power to enforce civil action against any state-financed constructor who violates these requirements, including injunctive relief and the ability to retain repayment of all the state funds that were spent on the project. However, it is worth noting that this piece of legislation does at least limit the government from seeking damages if civil action is brought forth. Rather than take any unnecessary risk, it is important for constructors who are performing work on state funded coastal construction projects to ensure they are in compliance with this new legislation. Otherwise, they may be liable for paying back thousands, or even millions, of dollars for not adhering to this new mandate.

While change can be a good thing, it is something most people have a considerably difficult time adapting to. Unfortunately, when it comes to following the law, there is not usually a grace period allotted for these new adjustments. Senate Bill 178 will likely cause visual changes here in Florida. We can expect to see a decline in coastal construction and development, as well as changes that are not as easy to see. The changes that will be much more difficult to notice are the ones where the majority of the population are unaffected. With the passing of this legislation, it may cause significant delays, cancellations, and limitations on construction projects. From that, could come profit loss, economic decline and job reduction. Most importantly, and what has not been addressed enough, would be how this legislation could diminish the Florida construction industry as a whole. While this is currently only impacting publicly funded construction projects, a previous version of this bill applied these requirements to private construction as well. While it may be too soon to tell, it would not be a surprise to see implementation of this bill to all coastal construction projects in the future.

Tifffani Sprague, a Paralegal working with the construction industry attorneys at Zinzow Law, LLC.  For more information, or to inquire about a free seminar on this or other legal topics, email info@zinzowlaw.com, or visit www.zinzowlaw.com.

Courage Required-Courage Inspired

Thomas Hobbes, the author of “Leviathan,” written centuries ago, conveyed his thoughts to the world about a properly functioning and safe society. Hobbes wrote about inherent liberty, but also about our duties to one another through both good and challenging times. Hobbes advocated that we each give away to a government a small piece of our innate liberty; that we empower an executive government to protect us from each other and from our worse human characteristics: greed, power, irrationality, fear, and unkindness.

Our government today — and indeed democracies throughout the world — were modeled, in significant part, on these principals. Yet, as Hobbes recognized, government is of the people, by the people, and in principal, for the people. Being of and by the people, it is susceptible to the same human characteristics as society itself: greed, irrationality, power, fear, and unkindness. Accordingly, Hobbes logically advocated that there also be a check on government. We are those protectors. We are judges, lawyers, paralegals, clerks, assistants, administrators, executives, bailiffs, and all those who support the justice system.

This system has always been grounded in justice and the protection of the weak from the strong. Yet, the law and its deployment or restraint has always been imperfect. This is why, since time immemorial, those members of society who have been privileged enough to serve the law have also had as their charge the duty to protect it. We are the greatest threat to those who act with greed, power, irrationality, fear, and unkindness.

Sadly, when our profession is needed most, it has vanished. Trials have been postponed indefinitely. Law firms lay quiet. Judicial progress has been reduced to a crawl. William E. Gladstone is oft cited as the source of that centuries’ old truism: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

The order of society depends upon our system of justice. We are privileged to serve the third co-equal branch of government, and with great privilege comes great responsibility. We must live, speak, and act with courage and get the wheels of justice moving again.


All members of Team Zinzow Law

Trinity, Florida