Code Violations and Liens

Code Violations and Liens

Negotiate Code Violations and Liens

Code Violations and Liens

When looking to purchase properties, investors can come across issues regarding city or municipal code liens. Every county has its own Code Enforcement Services Division. There are multiple issues with properties that become violations of the Florida Building Code. These include buildings without a permit, unsecured and stagnant pools, unsafe structures, and below minimum housing standards. In order to maintain the health and safety of its residents in each county, the Florida Building Code Enforcement Section of the Building Code Services Division of each county enforces the provisions of the code. Inspectors working for the Code Enforcement program are certified as inspectors by multiple regulatory commissions. These include the Board of Rules and Appeals, the State Building Code Administrators and the Inspectors Board of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. They are trained to look for and cite structures with unsafe or substandard conditions.

If a violations exists, a Code Enforcement lien or multiple liens may be recorded against a property. It is important as an investor to identify any liens against a property. Review the Public Records of the county in which a property is located to help identify if there are any recorded liens. Many cities and municipalities are now online. If they are not online, call the Code Enforcement office of the county to find out if a violation exists, the costs of the violations and when a lien will be filed against your subject property.

Yes, code liens are negotiable. The purpose of a fine and lien is to not make money for the City or Municipality but to bring the property in compliance. Bringing a structure into compliance eliminates possible dangers and therefore keeping the public and the owner safe. You will need written authorization from the owner if you are going to negotiate the lien. An authorization to release information can work with code enforcement offices, but some require a written power of attorney. Contact your attorney or title company about how to obtain a written power of attorney.

When you have the proper documentation to prove that you have the authorization to negotiate a lien, contact the code enforcement office that issued the lien. Tell them you are looking to buy a particular property that has liens, that you intend to correct all issues within a reasonable period of time and that you want to negotiate the amount of the lien. The code enforcement officer has authority to give you the amount of time to fix the issues and the amount you will pay. In some cases, bringing the property into compliance may allow you to only pay an administrative fee! Do not be intimidated liens or the amount. To properly deal with code liens you must be able to fix the issues or have someone who can.  This way when the property is eventually inspected, you have done what you said and the lien can be satisfied; both from a compliance standpoint as well as a pre-negotiated reduced dollar amount of the lien. Fixing the liens and bringing the property into compliance will allow for you to get clear title once inspected by the code enforcement officer.

So just remember liens are negotiable. Sometimes you will be able to get the entire lien wiped out, other times you may have to pay a percentage of the face amount of the lien. Either way being able to negotiate liens will make your good deals great. Make the effort; it can result in more profit on some deals!

Happy Investing!