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Bill Summary Details

Clean Energy Programs (Oppose – Preemption)

HB 225 (Zika) and SB 824 (Hooper) amend current law relating to “Property Assessed Clean Energy” (PACE) programs and requirements. The bill provides definitions for PACE administrator, PACE contractor, PACE loan, PACE loan contract, qualifying commercial real property and qualifying residential property. It provides that a local government may enter an agreement with a PACE administrator to administer the program and specifies that local government or PACE administrator may enter into a PACE loan contract only with the record owner of the property. It eliminates current language in law stating that a recorded PACE loan contract provides constructive notice that the assessment to be levied constitutes a lien of equal dignity to county taxes and assessments. The bill includes new provisions regarding a PACE loan’s lien position. It provides that a PACE loan is: subordinate to all liens on the property recorded before the PACE lien notice is recorded; subordinate to a first mortgage on the property recorded after the PACE notice is recorded; and superior to any lien recorded after the PACE notice is recorded. The bill imposes substantial new requirements on local governments financing for qualifying residential property (maturity date of PACE loan, limits on loan amount, total combined debt may not exceed 75 percent of assessed value). The bill specifies required contents for PACE loan contracts for residential real property and prohibits such contracts from resulting in negative amortization, charging any interest upon interest or fees or containing any provision requiring forced arbitration or restricting class action. The bill prohibits a residential PACE contract from being entered until it has been verified the property owner has the ability to repay the loan: owner’s monthly debt to income ratio does not exceed 43 percent and must have sufficient residual income to meet basic living expenses. The bill specifies methodology and sources for verification of property owner’s income, debt and expenses. The bill requires the local government or PACE administrator, prior to execution of a contract, to confirm the key terms of the PACE agreement and scope of energy improvement work with the property owner in a live, recorded telephone conversation. The bill requires specific disclosures be made to the owner during the telephone call. The bill requires that prior to entering a PACE loan on residential property, the household be screened for eligibility for low-or no-cost programs that may be provided by government or utility service providers. The bill prohibits a local government from permitting a property owner from entering a contract unless the owner is given a right to cancel the contract within a specified timeframe. It requires the use of a specified financing estimate and disclosure form and that such form be provided to an owner at least three business days before a contract is signed. The bill delineates prohibited practices by PACE administrators or PACE contractors. The bill prohibits a local government or PACE administrator from entering into a PACE contract unless written notice has been provided to, and written consent obtained from, each of the holders of any mortgage on the qualifying residential or commercial property. It provides that a PACE loan shall not be made unless the holder of any mortgage on the qualifying property provides signed confirmation that entering into the loan contract does not constitute an event of default or give rise to any remedies under the terms of the mortgage loan. The bill provides for preservation of claims and defenses for successors in interest to property owners and provides for attorney fees and costs for aggrieved residential property owners. (O’Hara)