Most Florida cities have ordinances that give them powers to assess liens on property for utility balances, code violations, etc. Often included in these ordinances is language giving the liens superiority over other liens, titles or claims against the property and giving the cities foreclosure power.
The problem with these ordinances is that they may (or may not) directly conflict with Florida’s Recording Act (695.11 F.S.). The Recording Act determines the “priority” of interest in real property based on notice of competing interests. City ordinances that give their liens super-priority (regardless of notice) ignore 695.11. At least that is what is being argued by respondent, Wells Fargo, and the Florida Land Title Assn (FLTA) in its amicus brief before the Florida Supreme Court in Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. City of Palm Bay.
The certified question for the state’s highest court to answer is:
Whether, under Article VIII, Section 2(b), Florida Constitution, section 166.021, Florida Statutes and Chapter 162, Florida Statutes, a municipality has the authority to enact an ordinance stating that its code enforcement liens, created pursuant to a code enforcement board order and recorded in the public records of the applicable county, shall be superior in dignity to prior recorded mortgages?