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Seller should take steps to close permit

August 17, 2018
By ERIC FEICHTHALER (Real Estate Law) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I recently signed a contract to buy a house in Cape Coral, and discovered that there is an open permit from three years ago for electrical work at the house. The seller says not to worry about it, that the city has not brought it up as an issue, so all is fine. Should I be concerned about this?

- Steven N.

Dear Steven:

Congratulations on the potential new purchase. Hopefully, your contract provides for sufficient time to make sure the house is everything you expect, inside and outside. This inspection period allows you to determine any potential issues, and to require the seller to correct them, or otherwise account for their correction. In the case of open permits, there could be several issues that arise, most importantly whether the house is safe. City inspectors review electrical work to ensure it complies with state code. Without this review, you are rolling the dice. Moreover, the potential liability to the city attaches to the property, not necessarily the previous owner. You could be responsible for a code violation, which could cost you thousands of dollars. The law firm or title company will require you take the property subject to this permit issue if you go forward, so your title insurance policy will not cover this issue.

I would recommend you require, as a contingency on the purchase, that the seller take all steps necessary to close the permit and have inspections completed. Not only will this avoid potential issues with the city, but it may very well mean the safety of your family.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 30 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 17 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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