Code Enforcement hearings can be held to address a very wide diversity of problems and violations of local codes and ordinances, such as building code violations, property maintenance issues, and zoning violations. The outcome of these hearings can result in fines, penalties, or even the possibility of losing ownership of the property.
If you find yourself facing a Code Enforcement Hearing, it is important to seek assistance from a qualified professional who can help you navigate the process and protect your rights. In this blog post, we will discuss the role of an attorney in assisting property owners at Code Enforcement Hearings and how they can help you achieve a favorable outcome.
Understanding the Process
The first step in preparing for a Code Enforcement Hearing is to understand the process. Code Enforcement Hearings are typically held before an administrative hearing officer often referred to as a Magistrate or possible a Board, who will hear evidence from both the property owner and the code enforcement officer. The hearing officer or board will then make a decision based on the evidence presented and issue a ruling.
Before the hearing, the property owner will receive a notice of the violations and the opportunity to correct the violations or contest the allegations. It is important to respond to the notice promptly and seek legal advice to ensure that your rights are protected.
Assistance from an Attorney
An Attorney who is experienced in handling Code Enforcement Hearings can provide valuable assistance to property owners. Here are some of the ways that an attorney can help:
- Review the Notice: An attorney can review the notice of violations and advise the property owner on the best course of action. This may include correcting the violations or contesting the allegations.
- Prepare Evidence: An attorney can gather evidence, such as photographs and witness statements, to support the property owner’s case. This evidence can be presented by you attorney at the hearing to help demonstrate compliance with the applicable codes and ordinances, rebut any efforts that the code compliance officer makes to justify the imposition of fines or other negative rulings.
- Represent the Property Owner: An attorney can represent the property owner at the hearing and present evidence on their behalf. This can include cross-examining witnesses and making legal arguments to support the property owner’s case.
- Negotiate Settlements: An attorney can negotiate with the code enforcement officer to resolve the violations prior to the hearing. This can often result in a more favorable outcome for the property owner, such as reduced fines or more time to correct the violations.
- Appeal the Decision: If the property owner is unhappy with the outcome of the hearing, an attorney can assist with potentially appealing the decision to a higher court or administrative body. It is important if you believe you may need to appeal your case to create a record, this means potentially hiring a court reporter to be at the hearing to create a written transcript of everything that takes place, which can be utilized during any future appeal.
Facing a Code Enforcement Hearing can be a stressful and overwhelming experience for property owners. However, with the assistance of a qualified attorney, property owners can navigate the process and protect their rights. An attorney can provide valuable assistance in reviewing notices, preparing evidence, representing the property owner at the hearing, negotiating settlements, and appealing decisions. If you are facing a Code Enforcement Hearing, it is important to seek legal advice to ensure the best possible outcome.
40 Year Recertification Certificate
In addition to assisting property owners with Code Enforcement Hearings, attorneys can also be of a great deal of assist to commercial building owners in Florida who need assistance with getting an extension of time to complete their 40-Year Recertification Certificate.
The relevant Florida law on the 40-Year Recertification requirement for commercial buildings can be found in Section 553.79, Florida Statutes. This law requires that all buildings in Florida that are 40 years old or older undergo a recertification process to ensure that the building is safe and up to code.
The law requires that the recertification process be conducted by a registered architect or engineer, who will inspect the building’s structural and electrical systems, as well as its fire safety features. The architect or engineer must then certify that the building is in compliance with all applicable building codes and regulations.
If the architect or engineer identifies any deficiencies or non-compliant conditions during the inspection, the building owner must take corrective action to bring the building into compliance. Once all necessary repairs and upgrades are completed, the architect or engineer must issue a final certification stating that the building is in compliance with all applicable codes and regulations.
The law also requires that the recertification process be repeated every 10 years for as long as the building is in use, with the first recertification required at the 40-year mark.
Building owners who fail to obtain a 40-Year Recertification Certificate or who are not in compliance with the code may face fines and penalties, as well as the possibility of having their building condemned.
It is important for building owners to comply with the 40-Year Recertification requirement to ensure the safety of their building and its occupants, and to avoid potential legal and financial consequences.
Since the tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers condominium towers in Surfside, Florida, local governments have become much more diligent in ensuring that buildings are in compliance with the 40-Year Recertification Certificate requirement.
The collapse of the Champlain Towers highlighted the importance of building safety and the need for regular inspections and maintenance of older buildings. In response, local governments throughout Florida have ramped up their efforts to enforce the 40-Year Recertification requirement and ensure that buildings are safe and up to code.
Building departments are now conducting more frequent and rigorous inspections of commercial buildings to ensure compliance with the 40-Year Recertification requirement. Building owners who fail to obtain a 40-Year Recertification Certificate or who are not in compliance with the code may face fines and penalties, as well as the possibility of having their building condemned.
In addition, local governments are also considering changes to building codes and regulations to improve building safety and prevent future tragedies. For example, Miami-Dade County has proposed new building safety rules that would require more frequent inspections and the hiring of a certified engineer to oversee the recertification process.
As a result of these changes, it is more important than ever for building owners to ensure that they are in compliance with the 40-Year Recertification requirement. An attorney can provide valuable assistance in navigating the recertification process and ensuring that the building is safe and up to code.
Under Florida law, commercial buildings that are 40 years old or older must undergo a 40-Year Recertification process to ensure that the building is safe and up to code. The process involves an inspection of the building’s structural and electrical systems, as well as its fire safety features.
If a building owner fails to obtain a 40-Year Recertification Certificate, they may face fines and penalties, as well as the possibility of having the building condemned. However, obtaining a 40-Year Recertification Certificate can be a time-consuming and expensive process, especially for older buildings that may require significant repairs or upgrades.
Fortunately, building owners in Florida can request an extension of time to complete the 40-Year Recertification process. An attorney can assist with this process by filing a request for an extension with the local building department, and negotiating with the department to obtain a reasonable extension.
To qualify for an extension, building owners should be able to demonstrate through documentation that they have made a good faith effort to obtain the necessary inspections and repairs, and that they have a plan in place to complete the process. It would also be useful to provide an estimate for how long it will take to complete the process with the Engineer, then I always tell my clients to ask for some additional time on top of that to allow for normal business delays. An attorney can help building owners put together a comprehensive plan that addresses any outstanding issues and sets realistic deadlines for completion, which can be utilized to justify an extension of time to comply.
In addition, an attorney can help building owners navigate any legal or regulatory issues that may arise during the 40-Year Recertification process. For example, if the building is subject to a historic preservation designation or other regulatory requirements, an attorney can help ensure that the necessary permits and approvals are obtained.
In conclusion, obtaining a 40-Year Recertification Certificate is an important process for commercial building owners in Florida, but it can be a complex and time-consuming process. An attorney can provide valuable assistance by helping building owners obtain an extension of time, putting together a comprehensive plan, and navigating any legal or regulatory issues that may arise. If you own a commercial building in Florida and need assistance with the 40-Year Recertification process, or need to seek assistance getting an extension of time to complete the process it is important to seek the advice of a qualified attorney who can help mitigate the potential legal exposure.
In conclusion, the tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers has led to increased scrutiny of building safety and the 40-Year Recertification requirement in Florida. Local governments are now taking a more proactive approach to enforcement and considering changes to building codes and regulations to improve safety. Building owners should be aware of these changes and work with a qualified attorney to ensure compliance with the 40-Year Recertification requirement and ensure the safety of their building and its occupants.
By David Levine, Esq.