Florida Permit Law About to Change

As a real estate agent, I see how Florida law can sometimes negatively affect a home sale. A difficult issue that often arises relates to open permits.

How to sell home with Open Permits

It is no secret that Hurricane Andrew had a profound effect on South Florida. Unfortunately, it is still making its presence known in real estate.

I can’t tell you how many times a home in Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay or any other incorporated city has leftover permit issues from the Andrew era.

Many of the permits simply weren’t closed, as a result of clerical mistakes or an overwhelmed system.

Well, a newly passed bill is now on the Governor’s desk to become law. It allows local governments to close a permit six years after its issuance as long as no apparent safety hazards exist. It also prevents local governments from penalizing property owners for an open permit that was applied for by a previous owner.

I can’t tell you how much sense this makes! I’ll use a Pinecrest home as an example. Let’s say a roof was replaced in 1993 and the final inspection was not conducted, or it was simply not entered into Miami-Dade records. Since then, Pinecrest incorporated (in 1996) and took over all permit responsibilities. Further, the homeowner replaced the roof in 2015.

So, we have an open permit on the County books for a roof that was completely replaced and no longer exists. To make matters worse, the homeowner has no easy recourse since they now have to go through Pinecrest to clear up a Miami-Dade County record.

This often halts a real estate sale in its tracks. And, as I can personally attest, when someone calls the County to try and resolve it, they are told, “Don’t worry about it. It is not actionable.” In short, it is a hot potato that no one wants to handle.

I applaud the Florida Legislature for making sense out of a problematic set of rules surrounding old permits. If signed into law, this will be effective October 1, 2019.

In the meantime, I continue to help my clients work through interesting real estate Catch 22’s like this one. There is so much to learn about when buying or selling a home. Working with a professional can be the difference between failure and success.