Legal Update: HB 447
Have you ever had a closing delayed because of an open permit discovered a few days before closing? Thanks to the Florida legislature and the passage of HB 447, effective July 1st, 2019, the Florida Building Codes Act now provides a mechanism for property owners and local governments to close open and expired building permits.
The new law provides a local government to close an open permit after 6 years if no safety hazards exist, and prohibits a local government denying a subsequent buyer the issuance of a building permit simply because a previous owner failed to close the same permit. The bill created a procedure for owners to close open and expired permits by either using the old contractor or hiring a new one. Unlike the past, the new contractor would only be liable for the work they complete. The law also allows the owner to close out a permit by assuming the role of the owner-builder, provided the local government approves.
As a practical matter, you should always obtain your municipal lien search during the inspection period, so that you can carefully review and address any open items. The new law allows municipalities to send notice to the owner and the contractor 30 days prior to expiration of the permit, therefore sellers now have a responsibility to disclose to buyer of any notices received before entering into contract or during the transaction. It’s good practice to ask your sellers if they have received any government letters related to the property before listing. Thanks to HB 447, agents now have multiple “tools” to address last minute open permits.