If your reading this article, chances are you may have received the statutorily required notice to claimaints with an interest in surplus funds subsequent to a Tax Deed sale. The recovery of tax deed surplus funds is governed by Florida’s Tax Deed Surplus Statute which provides, §197.582, which provides:
(2) If the property is purchased for an amount in excess of the statutory bid of the certificateholder, the excess must be paid over and disbursed by the clerk. If the property purchased is homestead property and the statutory bid includes an amount equal to at least one-half of the assessed value of the homestead, that amount must be treated as excess and distributed in the same manner. The clerk shall distribute the excess to the governmental units for the payment of any lien of record held by a governmental unit against the property, including any tax certificates not incorporated in the tax deed application and omitted taxes, if any. If the excess is not sufficient to pay all of such liens in full, the excess shall be paid to each governmental unit pro rata. If, after all liens of governmental units are paid in full, there remains a balance of undistributed funds, the balance shall be retained by the clerk for the benefit of persons described in s. 197.522(1)(a).
Those persons described in Fla. Stat. §197.522(1)(a) are then further described as follows:
(1)(a) The clerk of the circuit court shall notify, by certified mail with return receipt requested or by registered mail if the notice is to be sent outside the continental United States, the persons listed in the tax collector’s statement pursuant to s. 197.502(4) that an application for a tax deed has been made. Such notice shall be mailed at least 20 days prior to the date of sale. If no address is listed in the tax collector’s statement, then no notice shall be required.
Fla. Stat. §197.522(1)(a) (emphasis added). Finally, the persons listed on Fla. Stat. §197.502(4) are listed as follows:
(a) Any legal titleholder of record if the address of the owner appears on the record of conveyance of the property to the owner. However, if the legal titleholder of record is the same as the person to whom the property was assessed on the tax roll for the year in which the property was last assessed, the notice may be mailed to the address of the legal titleholder as it appears on the latest assessment roll.
(b) Any lienholder of record who has recorded a lien against the property described in the tax certificate if an address appears on the recorded lien.
(c) Any mortgagee of record if an address appears on the recorded mortgage.
(d) Any vendee of a recorded contract for deed if an address appears on the recorded contract or, if the contract is not recorded, any vendee who has applied to receive notice pursuant to s. 197.344(1)(c).
(e) Any other lienholder who has applied to the tax collector to receive notice if an address is supplied to the collector.
(f) Any person to whom the property was assessed on the tax roll for the year in which the property was last assessed.
(g) Any lienholder of record who has recorded a lien against a mobile home located on the property described in the tax certificate if an address appears on the recorded lien and if the lien is recorded with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the mobile home is located.
Fla. Stat. § 197.502(4) (emphasis added). Pursuant to the clear language of the statutes, a claimant must be a record lienholder or mortgage holder. Further, Florida Administrative Code 12D-13.065 Disbursement of Proceeds of Sale is instructive. Pursuant to the Administrative Code:
Any remaining funds held by the clerk shall be distributed to those persons described in Section 197.502(4), F.S., except persons listed in Section 197.502(4)(h), F.S., as their interests may appear. Therefore, the distribution scheme must observe the priorities of recordation of the liens or interests in the public records of the County.
Fla. Admin. Code 12D-13.065. Like the statute, pursuant to the Administrative Code, the funds are to be distributed to only those persons listed in Fla. Stat. §197.502(4). If you are a lienholder, or former property owner, our firm can help you litigate your entitlement to these funds.