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Accountability for Building Code Violations in Florida

December 31, 2014 Construction Industry Legal Blog

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Section 553.781, Florida Statutes, provides a measure to require the design professionals and contractors to comply with the Building Code. The Legislature found that accountability for work performed by design professionals and contractors is the key to strong and consistent compliance with the Florida Building Code and, therefore, protection of the public health, safety, and welfare was required. The legislature enacted 553.781 to provide such accountability.

Upon a determination by a local jurisdiction that a licensee, certificate-holder, or registrant licensed under chapter 455, chapter 471, chapter 481, or chapter 489 has committed a material violation of the Florida Building Code and failed to correct the violation within a reasonable time, such local jurisdiction shall impose a fine of no less than $500 and no more than $5,000 per material violation.

If the licensee, certificate-holder, or registrant disputes the violation within 30 days following notification by the local jurisdiction, the fine is abated and the local jurisdiction shall report the dispute to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation or the appropriate professional licensing board for disciplinary investigation and final disposition. If an administrative complaint is filed by the department or the professional licensing board against the certificate-holder or registrant, the Florida Building Commission may intervene in such proceeding. Any fine imposed by the department or the professional licensing board, pursuant to matters reported by the local jurisdiction to the department or the professional licensing board, shall be divided equally between the board and the local jurisdiction which reported the violation.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation, as an integral part of the automated information system provided under s. 455.2286, Florida Statutes, shall establish, and local jurisdictions and state licensing boards shall participate in, a system of reporting violations and disciplinary actions taken against all licensees, certificate-holders, and registrants under this section that have been disciplined for a violation of the Florida Building Code. Such information shall be available electronically. Any fines collected by a local jurisdiction pursuant to subsection (2) shall be used initially to help set up the parts of the reporting system for which such local jurisdiction is responsible. Any remaining moneys shall be used solely for enforcing the Florida Building Code, licensing activities relating to the Florida Building Code, or education and training on the Florida Building Code.

In addition, local jurisdictions shall maintain records, readily accessible by the public, regarding material violations and shall report such violations to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation by means of the reporting system provided in s. 455.2286, Florida Statutes. For purposes of this statute, a “material code violation” is defined as a violation that exists within a completed building, structure, or facility which may reasonably result, or has resulted, in physical harm to a person or significant damage to the performance of a building or its systems. Furthermore, when the fine is abated as provided in subsection (2) of the Statute, the failure to pay the fine within 30 days shall result in a suspension of the licensee’s, certificate-holder’s, or registrant’s ability to obtain permits within this state until such time as the fine is paid. Such suspension shall be reflected on the automated information system under s. 455.2286, Florida Statutes.

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