Florida Senate - 2019 SB 902 By Senator Perry 8-00857-19 2019902__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to open and expired building permits; 3 creating s. 553.7905, F.S.; specifying conditions 4 under which a building permit is considered an open 5 permit, expired permit, or closed permit; authorizing 6 an open or expired permit to be closed on by or on 7 behalf of the current property owner if certain 8 requirements are met; prohibiting a local enforcement 9 agency from taking certain actions against a 10 subsequent arms-length purchaser of property because a 11 building permit was not properly closed within certain 12 time periods; providing that a local enforcement 13 agency maintains all rights and remedies identified on 14 the permit; providing that certain permits may be 15 closed under certain circumstances; providing 16 exceptions; authorizing the owner of a home for sale 17 to assume the role of an owner-builder in order to 18 resolve an open permit under certain circumstances; 19 providing that such owner is not required to reside in 20 the home for a specified period; authorizing a 21 contractor to hold an unlimited number of permits; 22 providing that certain provisions of the Florida 23 Building Code are not applicable to certain permits; 24 providing an exception; requiring a local enforcement 25 agency to provide written notice to a property owner 26 when issuing a building permit; authorizing a 27 governmental entity to charge a fee for searching for 28 and identifying certain open or unexpired building 29 permits; requiring a local enforcement agency to send 30 a written notice to a property owner within a 31 specified period if a permit has not been properly 32 closed; providing requirements for the notice; 33 providing that failure to receive written notice does 34 not relieve certain persons from taking action to 35 close a permit; providing construction; providing an 36 effective date. 37 38 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 39 40 Section 1. Section 553.7905, Florida Statutes, is created 41 to read: 42 553.7905 Open and expired permits; procedures for closing; 43 notices to owners applying for permits.— 44 (1) A building permit shall be considered an open permit if 45 it is issued for any portion of construction of any commercial, 46 residential, or mixed-use project that has not received final 47 inspection approval within one of the following periods: 48 (a) One year after the expiration of the notice of 49 commencement or the last amendment thereto. 50 (b) In the absence of a notice of commencement: 51 1. One year after the last inspection conducted under the 52 permit; or 53 2. If an inspection has not been performed on the project, 54 2 years after the date of issuance of the permit. 55 (2) If an open permit expires without receiving final 56 inspection approval and without complying with other 57 requirements of the permit at issue, the open permit shall be 58 considered an expired permit as provided in s. 105.4 of the 59 Florida Building Code. 60 (3) A closed permit is a building permit in which any of 61 the following apply: 62 (a) A final inspection approval has been obtained upon 63 satisfaction of permit requirements. 64 (b) No work is started under the original permit within 6 65 months after issuance of the permit. 66 (c) The requirements of subsection (4) are satisfied. 67 (4) An open or expired permit may be closed by or on behalf 68 of the current property owner, regardless of whether the 69 property owner is the same owner who originally applied for the 70 permit or is a subsequent owner, by complying with the 71 requirements for closing permits pursuant to a mutual agreement 72 between the current property owner and the local enforcement 73 agency that issued the permit or, absent such an agreement, by 74 complying with the following requirements: 75 (a) The property owner may retain the original contractor 76 who obtained the permit or may hire a different contractor 77 licensed in this state who possesses any license required for 78 the performance of any work necessary to satisfy the conditions 79 of the permit at issue, in order to close the open or expired 80 permit; reactivate the permit if it is expired; or satisfy any 81 requirement of the permit at issue not yet satisfied, including 82 correcting of any code violation in accordance with the building 83 code that was in effect when the application for the permit was 84 filed, and obtaining any necessary inspection. 85 1. The state license of the contractor who performs these 86 functions must be current and active. 87 2. After providing the local enforcement agency a written 88 notice of change to a new licensed contractor and reactivation 89 of the permit, if applicable, the contractor is not liable for 90 any existing defect or existing work that fails to comply with 91 any applicable code, rule, regulation, ordinance, permit 92 requirement, or law other than the work actually performed by 93 the contractor. 94 3. The property owner and the permitholder under the 95 original open or expired permit remain liable, within the period 96 of any applicable statute of limitations or repose and as 97 provided by applicable law, for any defect in the work or for 98 failure to comply with any applicable code, rule, regulation, 99 ordinance, permit requirement, or law. 100 4. To the extent required by chapter 489, the owner or the 101 contractor may hire licensed subcontractors in the scope of the 102 permitted work who may perform the functions of the contractor 103 as outlined in this subsection to the extent the work is covered 104 by the subcontractor’s license. 105 5. All work required to properly close an open or expired 106 permit under this section must be performed in accordance with 107 the building code in effect on the date the application for the 108 open or expired permit was filed, unless, pursuant to the 109 building code in effect when the work is performed, the 110 contractor has sought and received approval from the local 111 enforcement agency for an alternative material, design, or 112 method of construction. 113 (b)1. As an alternative to the procedures required in 114 paragraph (a), a property owner may hire an engineer or 115 architect who possesses a current and active license in this 116 state; is experienced in designing, supervising, or inspecting 117 work of the nature covered by the open or expired permit at 118 issue; and has at least 3 years of experience in performing 119 field inspections regarding such work to inspect the 120 construction work subject to the open or expired building 121 permit, direct any repair necessary to comply with all the 122 requirements of the permit, and confirm compliance by submitting 123 an affidavit bearing the seal of the engineer or architect to 124 the issuing local enforcement agency. The affidavit must be 125 substantially in the following form: 126 127 I, ...(specify name)..., possess a current and active 128 ...(specify engineering or architectural)... license 129 in the State of Florida. I am experienced in 130 designing, supervising, or inspecting work of the 131 nature covered by the open or expired permit at the 132 real property located at ...(specify address).... I 133 have at least 3 years of experience in performing 134 field inspections as to such work. I have inspected 135 the construction work subject to the open or expired 136 building permit number ...(specify number)..., and I 137 confirm that the construction work complies with all 138 known requirements of the permit at issue. 139 140 Signed: 141 142 ...(affix licensing seal)... 143 144 2. If any of the permitted work includes construction 145 outside the engineer’s or architect’s area of expertise, the 146 property owner, engineer, or architect may hire an engineer or 147 architect licensed in the scope of the permitted work who may 148 direct any necessary repairs to comply with all requirements of 149 the permit at issue. The engineer or architect hired by the 150 property owner, engineer, or architect must confirm compliance 151 by submitting to the local enforcement agency issuing the permit 152 a signed and sealed affidavit attesting to compliance with all 153 requirements of the permit at issue. 154 3. The local enforcement agency issuing the permit shall 155 accept the affidavit or affidavits referenced in this paragraph 156 as satisfaction of all requirements of the permit at issue and 157 shall thereafter close the building permit, unless the agency 158 conducts its own final inspection within 7 business days after 159 receipt of the affidavit or affidavits and discovers code or 160 permit violations within the scope of work covered by the 161 permit. Such violations must be corrected to the local 162 enforcement agency’s satisfaction as a condition to closing the 163 permit. All work required to properly close an open or expired 164 permit under this paragraph must be performed in accordance with 165 the building code in effect on the date the application for the 166 open or expired permit was filed, unless, pursuant to the 167 building code in effect when the work is performed, the engineer 168 or architect has sought and received approval from the local 169 enforcement agency for an alternative material, design, or 170 method of construction. 171 (5) The requirements of subsection (4) apply regardless of 172 whether the building permit is open or has expired. 173 (6)(a) A local enforcement agency may not deny issuance of 174 a building permit or issue a notice of violation to, or fine, 175 penalize, sanction, or assess fees against, a subsequent arms 176 length purchaser of the subject property for value solely 177 because a building permit was not properly closed within one of 178 the following periods: 179 1. Five years after expiration of the date of recordation 180 of the notice of commencement or of the last amendment thereto. 181 2. If a notice of commencement was not recorded, within 7 182 years after the building permit was issued. 183 (b) A local enforcement agency shall maintain all rights 184 and remedies against the property owner and contractor 185 identified on the permit. 186 (7) An individual trade permit, or any other permit type 187 determined by a local enforcement agency, may be closed 6 years 188 after issuance of the permit if no apparent safety hazards exist 189 and no code violations have been previously documented. This 190 subsection does not apply to a building permit for a building 191 project still under construction with a legally granted permit 192 extension. 193 (8) As an alternative to the requirements in subsection 194 (4), with the approval of the local enforcement agency, the 195 owner of a home for sale may assume the role of an owner-builder 196 in order to resolve an open permit for a substantially completed 197 project when the project is abandoned or otherwise not completed 198 by the licensed contractor who obtained the permit. The owner is 199 not required to continue to reside in the home for 1 year. This 200 alternative applies only to real property consisting of single 201 or multiple family dwellings up to and including four units. 202 (9) A contractor may hold an unlimited number of active 203 permits. 204 (10) Provisions in the Florida Building Code which 205 authorize permits to be administratively closed by a local 206 enforcement agency are not applicable to a permit subject to 207 regulation by an agency not specifically enforcing the Florida 208 Building Code, except where the local enforcement agency has 209 regulatory authority over other areas related to the permit, 210 such as zoning or other land development code provisions. 211 Regulations not subject to such provisions in the Florida 212 Building Code include, but are not limited to, local zoning and 213 land use rules, local stormwater management rules, local 214 platting and subdivision requirements, rules implemented by the 215 Department of Health and the Department of Business and 216 Professional Regulation, local utility standards, and provisions 217 of the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System. 218 (11) When issuing a building permit, a local enforcement 219 agency shall provide to the property owner a written notice, 220 which may be electronically provided if the permit package is 221 electronically provided, in substantially the following form: 222 223 IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING COMPLIANCE WITH THE 224 INSPECTION AND APPROVAL PROCESS FOR ALL BUILDING 225 PERMITS 226 227 You are receiving a building permit authorizing the 228 construction referenced in the application that was 229 submitted to this local enforcement agency by you or 230 on your behalf. The permit is issued with conditions, 231 including required building inspections and assurances 232 that the construction complies with the design 233 submitted with the permit application and any other 234 conditions referenced in the permit. It is critical 235 that you ensure that all necessary building 236 inspections are passed before the expiration of any 237 notice of commencement or amendment thereto, as these 238 inspections are important to ensure that construction 239 has been performed in a safe and proper manner. If you 240 have any questions regarding these procedures, please 241 call the local enforcement agency. Your failure to 242 comply may also result in unsafe conditions arising 243 from your construction. 244 245 (12) The applicable governmental entity may charge only one 246 search fee for searching for and identifying open or unexpired 247 building permits for a tax parcel, regardless of how many units 248 or subunits may be assigned by a municipality or county to a 249 particular tax parcel identification number, in an amount 250 commensurate with research and time costs incurred by the 251 governmental entity. 252 (13) For all building permits issued after October 1, 2019, 253 a local enforcement agency shall send a written notice to the 254 property owner if a building permit has not been properly closed 255 within 1 to 3 years after issuance of any such permit. The 256 notice must advise the property owner of the need to properly 257 close the permit upon completion of the work covered by the 258 permit. Failure to receive written notice does not relieve the 259 contractor or the property owner from taking the necessary 260 actions to legally close the permit. 261 (14) This act does not prevent a local governmental entity 262 from enforcing any provision of a local land development code or 263 other local ordinance not inconsistent with this section. 264 Section 2. This act shall take effect October 1, 2019.