The Unity of Title Process is a foundational requirement for many real estate developments, from single families to duplexes and condominiums. It is also used for commercial projects. Obtaining a Unity of Title often requires an Opinion of Title, which is a separate process that entails various forms and procedures. Understanding this two-step endeavor with the help of a seasoned real estate attorney will mean the difference between success and failure in Florida’s complex and dynamic real estate market.
What is a Unity of Title?
A Unity of Title comes into play when a property owner wishes to use several distinct lots or parcels of land to make up a single cohesive development. A simple example is having two adjacent lots on which you want to build a two family house (i.e., duplex). Doing so would require executing a written agreement with the local jurisdiction promising not to convey or lease the individual lots separately—rather, they must be held together as one parcel of land.
The Unity of Title agreement must be recorded in the public records of the county where the land is located, since it gives notice to future buyers, grantees, or successors that they too will be bound by the requirements if the property is transferred or sold.
What Does the Unity of Title Process Entail?
It depends: The process is governed by the zoning ordinances of each individual municipality or county. Most have specific language that must be included. For example, the City of Miami requires that you prepare a special Unity of Title form before obtaining a building permit. This form has different language and requirements from those of other cities in the same county. However, in other parts of Florida, it is the county government through which you must obtain Unity of Title.
Regardless of how or where you apply for Unity of Title, you can be assured that it will be a process: Sometimes several departments or officials must approve the application, and you will be expected to provide deeds, proof of tax payments, and perhaps other documentation and information. One thing that virtually every local government will ask for is an Opinion of Title. In essence, this is the second prong of any real estate development that involves more than one parcel of land.
What is an Opinion of Title?
Do not let the word “opinion” fool you: This document is a comprehensive legal examination of all title-related matters pertaining to the subject properties. It certifies to public officials that the title record is correct and complete, the legal description of the property is accurate, and that there is nothing hindering local authorities from recording or enforcing the Unity of Title (or any other legal instrument for which it is required). Crucially, an Opinion of Title also notes any encumbrances, liens, special exceptions, and other exceptions pertaining to the property, making it highly advisable for property owners to obtain.
Virtually every zoning-related legal instrument in almost every jurisdiction requires an Opinion of Title for the Unity of Title process (and sometimes for other matters), which can generally only be prepared and signed by an attorney authorized to practice law in Florida.
How Will I Know What I Need?
This is where Farshchian Law comes in. You cannot be expected to figure out the myriad of requirements and processes for all 67 Florida counties—let alone its thousands of municipalities—nor should you trouble yourself with the often-complex requirements of both the Unity of Title and Opinion of Title process. Whether you are looking to build your own dream home or develop a multi-phased development, your time and energy is best concentrated on your project. So, regardless of where your real estate goals take you, our legal team will be with you every step of the way. Not only are we experienced with these requirements across many different jurisdictions, but we will put the time and effort to understand every applicable zoning and building code to ensure your development goes smoothly. By working with us, you will vastly improve the likelihood that your real estate goals will be met with optimal speed and efficiency.
If you would like to learn more about our real estate services, including for a Unity of Title or Opinion of Title letter, call us at (800) 604-1871 or email us at Info@JFRealEstateLaw.com or email us at Info@JFRealEstateLaw.com.