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Proof of Ownership

sunbizA policy change that has occurred over the past couple of years that seems to have begun infecting Broward County building departments is the dreaded, “proof of ownership” policy. Miami-Dade County has just about been completely engulfed by this painful cancer, and their are some spot locations showing up in Palm Beach County. If you are not familiar with building permit procedures you are probably wondering what the hell I am talking about.

Almost every municipality has a place for the Owner’s signature on the building permit application.  Back in the day,  you could probably have Micky Mouse sign it, and as long as the signature was notarized, the building department accepted it. Not anymore! Whoever signs the permit application must show “proof of ownership”. Not a big deal for a property owned by an individual. You can go the Property Appraiser’s website, print-out the information, and submit it with the building permit application. If that information isn’t current because of a new buyer, typically, and depending on the building department, a recorded warranty deed, or a settlement statement works.

The real problem occurs with properties owned by corporations. The building permit application has to be signed by one of the officers of the corporation. A great resource is Sunbiz.org. It is the Florida, Division of Corporations website. You can track down corporations and their officers. It can be a real pain in the butt sometimes to find the information you are looking for, because of LLC’s and shell corporations. Once you find the officers, you may also find that they refuse to sign the building permit application. An option is the “power of attorney” letter, if the municipality accepts such a document, and they will have their own procedures for the format of that document.

I always suggest to my Clients, when you get a sales call, go to the Property Appraiser’s website first, and then if a corporation to Sunbiz.org. It is the best way to confirm ownership. The person signing your contract, the Notice of Commencement, and the building permit application needs to be the legal Owner of the property.  Our services include a review of our Client’s building permit packages, to verify the ownership.

There are the “runner” type of permit processers that will try to submit whatever you give them, and bill you for it. We do not! Our initial consultation and document review are included in our fees. Please feel free to contact us for your professional building permit processing needs.

Building Permit Database

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“Is there one central location where I can get building permit history in the Sate of Florida?”  That is one of the most common questions I hear, and the answer is very simple. No! In South Florida alone, there are roughly one hundred building departments. Each having it’s own database, systems and procedures, and none of them link to each other in anyway. Some building permit data may be available on an individual municipalities website, but the quantity, and quality, of information varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

If you are looking for actual copies of building permit documents, the situation is even more dire. There are only a couple of municipalities that make copies of those documents available online, and that is only recently. For example,  about a year ago,  Miami-Dade County converted from paper document submissions to  digital permit document submissions in pdf format. Those documents can be retrieved via their website. Anything before the conversion is on micro-film and you have to physically go to their office to retrieve copies of the documents.

One of the services we offer at Permit Source is building permit document research and retrieval. You could spend hours just trying to get information by navigating through poorly designed websites, making phone calls, or leaving messages that go  un-returned . Our years of experience and daily interaction with the South Florida building departments allows us to move through the process much more efficiently. We already know the procedures, and where to go, to get the information and/or documents you need.