A group of Chinese nationals is suing Florida officials over the state’s new law that restricts foreign investment in Florida real estate from certain countries and all but bans purchases by Chinese nationals.

The lawsuit says the law is discriminatory and unconstitutional and violates the Fair Housing Act.

Senate Bill 264, signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this month, prohibits virtually all Chinese nationals and businesses based in China from buying real estate in Florida. Foreign investors from other “countries of concern,” including Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, Iran, South Korea and Syria, are barred from buying agricultural land in the state, as well as real estate within 10 miles of military and critical infrastructure.

The latter covers a wide range of areas including seaports, airports, chemical manufacturing facilities, power plants, water treatment plants and gas plants. Anyone who knowingly sells such real estate to a person or entity from these countries will be punished by the state.

The law came into effect on July 1.

Shen Yifan, Xu Zhiming, Wang Xinxi, Liu Yongxin and Clermont-based real estate brokerage Multi-Choice Realty are in federal court against Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, Florida Economic Opportunity Director Meredith Ivey and Florida Patricia Fitzgerald, chair of the state real estate board, filed the lawsuit. on Monday. The American Civil Liberties Union represented the plaintiffs.

Simpson and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity said it does not comment on ongoing litigation.

Plaintiffs claim the law imposes “particularly severe restrictions” on people from China and discredits ethnic Chinese and Chinese Americans who “will be forced to cancel the purchase of new homes” and register their properties with the state. Multi-Choice Realty, which does business primarily with Chinese and Chinese-American clients, could lose significant business, the complaint said.

The law “casts a pall over any person of Chinese descent who wants to buy real estate in Florida,” the lawsuit said.

The Florida Legislature passed SB 264 on May 4, and DeSantis signed it into law on May 8, along with SB 258 and 846, which the governor claimed were all aimed at “counteracting the Chinese Communist Party’s Malicious influence.” An exception later added to SB 264 allows foreign nationals on nontourist visas to purchase a residential property not exceeding two acres, provided the property is not on or within five miles of a military installation.

The ACLU said DeSantis’ “misguided justification unfairly equates the Chinese with their government’s actions and there is no evidence that Chinese real estate ownership in Florida poses a national security hazard,” in a statement The press release said.

Critics of SB 264 have compared some aspects of the legislation to Nazi Germany, including requiring the registration of such property already owned by Chinese investors or people the state considers “state-conscious.”

Realtors also called the restrictions discriminatory and risked deterring foreign investment from countries not covered by the legislation.

read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *