Many times permits have not been properly closed and it has created issues for home buyers and sellers. Effective October 1st, 2019 there are some changes to building permits in Florida. A shortened summary is listed below taken from analysis from the State of Florida.
The seller’s property disclosure form now includes questions about active or open permits on the home which have not been closed by a final inspection. In paragraph 12 of the contract, the seller is required to resolve open or expired permits and obtain permits for any unpermitted improvements up to a certain dollar amount. The seller must assist the buyer with closing permits. The closings may be delayed.
The changes in the law provide clarity with open and expired building permits, give procedures to close permits and establish notices for local agencies and owners to utilize.
An open permit is defined using a combination of comment notice information, permit issuance dates, and determinations of whether and when permit inspections or final inspections occurred. An open permit that expires without a final inspection is considered an expired permit as provided in the Florida Building Code.
A permit is closed when:
A final inspection demonstrates that all permit requirements have been satisfied;
No work is started under the original contract within six months of permit issuance.
A current property owner and the local enforcement agency may enter into a mutual agreement to engage specified licensed contractors to fulfill closing requirements.
Absent a mutual agreement, the permit may be closed by the homeowner by:
Retaining the services of the original, licensed contractor to complete work within the scope of the permit;
Hiring an active, licensed professional engineer or architect to inspect the construction work and provide local enforcement agency sealed affidavit certifying compliance with all the requirements of the permit;
When selling the home the owner can resolve certain open permit issues and the owner is not required to reside in the home for one year.
A contractor hired to complete the original contractor’s work is not liable for any existing defects or requirements and is only liable for their work.
Affidavits submitted by an engineer or architect are deemed to satisfy permit closing requirements unless the local enforcement agency conducts its own final inspection within seven business days of an affidavit receipt and discovers code or permit violations.
A local enforcement agency may not deny a building permit, issue a notice of violation, or otherwise penalize or sanction a purchaser of property for an improperly closed permit within five years of a recorded commencement notice or its last amendment. If no commencement notice was issued, the period increases to within seven years after a building permit is issued. A local government agency’s other rights and remedies against the property are not affected by the bill.
Any permit issued by a local enforcement agency, including an individual trade permit, may be closed six years after issuance of the permit if there are no documented code violations or safety hazards.
If a building permit is issued but not closed within one to three years, the local enforcement agency must send an advisory notice to the property owner regarding proper permit closing procedures. Failure to receive a notice does not relieve the property owner or contractor from closing the permit. Additionally, the bill: Permits a contractor to hold an unlimited number of active permits.
These changes should help to resolve many of the open permits that are found when a property is sold and inform homeowners when they are left open. During our home inspection process we research permits and find many that are open or voided. Hopefully this will help eliminate the problems that develop because of them.