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Title-Blog

What Happens During a Title Search?

Whether you want to buy or sell a home or commercial property, a clear title ensures no one else can claim ownership and that you have the legal right to own the property. Title searches are a necessary part of any real estate transaction. They must be performed by a licensed title search company or real estate lawyer in Orlando (or wherever the property is located). Below, we shed light on what goes into a title search when closing a real estate transaction in Florida.

What is a Title Search?

A title search reviews a property’s history to uncover any liens, disputes, or issues with the seller’s ability to sell the property you intend to buy. It examines who has the right to the property and lists any known claims, loans, or debts that may inhibit someone from selling it. Title searches ensure the buyer won’t be responsible for paying any party to settle a debt tied to the property once purchased.

How Title Searches Protect Buyers and Sellers

Title searches benefit both buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. The primary purpose of a title search is to ensure the buyer can legally purchase the home and that no one (other than the seller) can claim ownership of all or part of the property. If there is a lien or other claim on the home, it can’t be sold until the claim is settled. For sellers, title searches may uncover unknown issues with the ability to sell a property, such as an outdated lien an old contractor put on your home but never submitted the paperwork to remove it. A title search allows you to quickly help resolve those issues so you can sell your home.

Types of Claims Title Searches Uncover

There are several types of claims a real estate lawyer in Orlando can uncover when performing a title search. Here are the few common types of claims found during a property title search:

Easements

An easement is when an entity (usually a government or private company performing a public service) has the right to use someone else’s land for a specific reason, such as electricity, roadwork, pipelines, or maintenance. For example, a local city government may be authorized to access a part of your property to maintain electrical poles or waterlines.

Liens

A lien refers to the right to retain possession of someone else’s property until a debt is paid in full. Liens are legal tools contractors, construction companies, and home service providers use to ensure they get paid for their completed services. Liens permit contractors and service providers to make a legal claim against your property if they aren’t paid for their work.

Open Probate

A title search will show whether the property is part of an open or contested probate proceeding.

Boundary Disputes

Boundary disputes arise when there is a disagreement between property owners regarding the location of their property lines. While property lines should be surveyed and recorded on the property owner’s deed, discrepancies between surveys may lead to two people believing they own the same land. A title search will show whether the property boundary has been disputed in the past or if there is open litigation regarding the property.

How Title Searches are Conducted

A title search company or real estate lawyer performs title searches. The property’s public records, such as property ownership history, deeds, mortgages, liens, foreclosures, and tax assessments, will be accessed and examined during a title search. After collecting all the necessary public records, your Orlando real estate lawyer will compile a comprehensive report. This report will contain a detailed history of the property’s ownership and highlight any claims currently placed on the property. If there are no red flags, you can proceed with the purchase. If the report indicates claims against the property, they must be settled before the home can be purchased, or you’ll need to walk away from the deal.

Understanding Title Search Reports

Here’s a breakdown of what’s included in a title search report:

Apparent Title and Property Owner

This part of the report provides information about the current property owner based on public records. Don’t gloss over this part; you’ll want to ensure the information on the title report matches the seller’s name and contact information.

Property Description

The legal description details a comprehensive description of the property, including its specific location.

Muniments of Title

This part of the report shows the property’s ownership history and timeline. It will also denote anyone with interest in the property, such as a mortgage lender or bank. Any litigation regarding the property in the past will also be included here.

Mortgage and Tax Information

This section will list financial information regarding the property, including mortgages or loans associated with it. It will discuss when the mortgage origination date, the original loan amount, repayment terms, and whether it’s current or in default. It will also state the property’s current tax status and the estimated real estate taxes for the current year. 

Liens, Encumbrances, and Title Restrictions

This is the critical element of any title search report. It’s vital to ensure no liens or encumbrances on it. While liens are debts the current property owner must pay off before selling the property to you, encumbrances are interests other parties have in the property. Identifying and addressing any liens or encumbrances is crucial before finalizing a real estate transaction.

Handling Title Disputes

If the title search comes back with claims against the property, it’s vital to contact an experienced real estate attorney in Orlando to help resolve these issues. Title disputes can often be resolved by settling the lien (either by contesting it or paying it off) or by making a quiet title action. A quiet title action is a lawsuit that a property owner can file against a company that has made a lien against a property unfairly. The quiet title action could result in the removal of the claims against the property.

Boutty Law Firm: Orlando Real Estate Lawyer

Title disputes are complex issues that require the assistance of an experienced Orlando real estate lawyer. At the Boutty Law Firm, our experienced real estate lawyer can help you resolve any concerns regarding a property’s title. If a title search has revealed an open claim or lien on your home, please contact our office at 407-622-1395. Our lawyers will work with you to find the best option to resolve the issue so that you can confidently sell or buy the property.

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Design-Blog

What is a Design Defect?

Discovering construction defects in a building project can be a frustrating experience for any property owner. These defects can arise from inadequate planning, substandard workmanship, and defective materials. Design defects are a type of construction defect related to a structure’s design and planning. Learn more about design defects and what to do if your home or business structure has a design defect below. 

What is a Design Defect?  

According to Florida Statute 558.002(5), design defects are deficiencies that affect a structure’s functionality, safety, or durability due to the planning, supervision, observation, repair, remodeling, or design specifications. Design defects occur when errors in project planning make the building dysfunctional or dangerous, even though the building is constructed according to the approved plans. If the design defect is caught early, it can sometimes be remedied by redesigning the structure and fixing the problem during construction. However, if the design defect isn’t detected during construction, it can cause serious property damage and injuries to those utilizing the property.  

Types of Design Defects  

There are several common types of design defects that can be easily overlooked during the planning phase of a construction project:  

Inferior Structural Support  

This occurs when the design doesn’t account for the necessary load-bearing requirements, resulting in weak or unstable structures that could break, fall, or collapse.  

Insufficient Lighting 

Personal injuries such as slips and falls can occur in places with low lighting. In some cases, the lighting could be a design flaw, such as not providing enough overhead fluorescent lighting at the entrance of a retail store and not having enough natural light to provide a safe environment for customers and employees.   

Lack of Accessibility  

Buildings must follow a list of requirements to make them accessible to everyone. Narrow doorways, lack of ramps or elevators, and improper placement can be design defects that make the building not ADA compliant, resulting in federal and state penalties that could include a fine of up to $75,000. 

Examples of Design Defects 

Here are a few real-world examples of design defects:  

  • A highway overpass was designed without accounting for the typical height of trucks and construction vehicles. Several trucks collided with the top of the overpass, causing extensive property damage and significant traffic problems. 
  • A new neighborhood was designed with an insufficient stormwater drainage system. Some residents experienced flooding during heavy rain and thunderstorms, causing property damage and dangerous conditions.  
  • A university library was built on a lot of lakefront sandy soil. The building’s design failed to account for the weight of the books located inside the library, and the entire structure began to sink several inches per year.  

Liability for Design Defects For Home and Business Owners  

If you think there’s a design defect in a recently completed project in your newly built home or commercial business, here’s what to do: 

  1. Document the issue. Take pictures and videos, and keep track of your expenses for repair and replacement.  
  1. Review your construction contract and blueprints. Inspect your agreement with your contractor or construction company to review your agreed-upon specifications. You can also see if construction and design defects are addressed in the contract. 
  1. Get a second opinion. Hire another designer or contractor specializing in design assessments to review your project design. They can provide a third-party opinion on whether a design defect may have occurred.  
  1. Speak with a construction attorney. Once you have confirmation about an alleged design defect, contact a legal professional, like our team at the Boutty Law Firm. We will listen to your concerns and help you through the process of receiving compensation for expenses and damage caused to your home or business due to a design defect.  
  1. Notify the designer, contractor, or construction company. You must follow specific requirements to do this, so our attorneys will help you through this process.  
  1. File a claim. You have four years after discovering the defect to file a claim. We will work diligently to help you get the compensation you deserve due to your property’s design defect, whether we use formal mediation methods or take your case to court.  

Experienced Construction Attorneys in Central Florida 

The Boutty Law Firm has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry and has helped clients with numerous construction law cases in Central Florida. We represent residential and commercial property owners and construction companies for all construction law matters. Contact us today to discuss your case and schedule a consultation.  

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Preliinary-Notice

What To Do If A Construction Lien Is Placed On Your Home in Florida

Liens are a legal remedy used by contractors, construction companies, and home service providers in Florida to ensure payment for completed services. A lien allows them to make a claim against your property to settle a debt. While an involuntary home sale to pay off the debt is rare, liens can make selling or refinancing your home difficult.  Construction lien law can be complex and confusing, so this article is an overview and starting point.  One priority for any property owner is to file a notice of commencement with the local clerk’s office before or very quickly after a project starts.  Many clerk’s offices have an acceptable form to follow for this notice, or go to Fla. Stat. §713.13 and follow the form provided.  The notice of commencement will generally have the following: 

  • The address of the property. 
  • The nature of the work performed. 
  • The names and addresses of the owner, general contractor, and surety. 

The reason for doing this is to provide accurate information so those individuals or companies that want to file a lien have the information they need to help them do so properly.  If you do not file a notice of commencement or record an inaccurate notice, this may be used by claimants whose time limit has lapsed as an exception to collect when otherwise their claim would have been barred.  

Who Can File A Lien?  

Under Florida’s Construction Lien Law (Chapter 713, Florida Statutes), anyone who worked on a property and didn’t receive payment for their services may file a lien on that property. Liens can be filed against your property even if you have already paid the contractor or business but they failed to pay their employees or subcontractors. Various service providers may file a lien, including material providers, contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, interior designers, and surveyors. Homeowner associations (HOAs) and the IRS can also place liens if you have unpaid dues or owe back taxes. 

How Liens Are Filed  

To file a valid lien in Florida, the eligible person or business must do so within 90 days from the last day they furnished labor or materials to improve the property to record a construction lien properly.  The person or business owner must inform you of their intention to place a lien through a formal Notice to Owner, following the specific format stated in Chapter 713 of the Florida Statutes. The Notice to Owner should include your name and address, a description of the services or work performed, the amount due, the filing date, and a clear warning about the implications of a lien, as described in the statute.  A proper lien acts as security to their right to payment from the property owner, and once recorded, the lien is valid for one (1) year.      

How Do You Remove a Lien From Your Property?  

If you receive a Notice to Owner or discover a lien on your property, you have several options to attempt its release: 

  1. Pay off the lien. The most straightforward and quickest way to remove a lien is to pay off the debt owed to the contractor or service provider with a valid claim against your property. Keep a record of all payments made, and once the final payment is made, request a final payment affidavit and a formal release of lien to ensure its removal from your property record. 
  1. Request a Lien Release If you believe the lien was wrongfully filed, you can request a formal release of the lien from the lienor. Provide documentation proving the debt was paid in full and request the lien’s removal. 
  1. File a Contest of Lien. The owner may pressure the business or person filing the claim by filing a Notice of Contest of Lien form as provided in the body of the statute (Fla. Stat. §713.22(2)), which shortens the time the claimant has to institute their action to sixty (60) days, or the lien is automatically extinguished. 
  1. Allow the Lien to Expire. If the lienor fails to file a lawsuit within 1 year of filing the lien or 60 days from a Contest of Lien, the lien automatically expires.  

Real Estate Attorneys You Can Trust: The Boutty Law Firm. Dealing with property liens in Florida can be complex and requires adherence to specific guidelines outlined in state law. If you have a lien on your property, seek assistance from experienced real estate attorneys like our team at The Boutty Law Firm. Contact our Maitland, Florida, office at 407-622-1395 to discuss your case. 

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Blog

Common Disputes in Construction Law 

The complex nature of construction projects and the number of people involved can be a breeding ground for legal disputes. From bidding on a project to discovering defective materials years after completion, many issues can arise surrounding construction. When legal matters emerge regarding construction law, count on an experienced construction law attorney like the Boutty Law Firm to work with you during legal disputes and challenges before, during, and after a construction project. Below, we discuss some of the most common causes of construction disputes in Florida.  

Construction Liens  

One of the most common types of construction disputes is a construction lien, also known as a mechanic lien. Liens are a powerful type of legal action that ensures contractors and workers are paid for their services promptly. This is done by leveraging a legal right to the property where the work was performed to secure payment. Any contractor who worked at a property and didn’t get paid can issue a lien—even if the owner paid a general contractor who failed to pay their subcontractors. Contractors who wish to file a lien against a property must inform the owner of their intention with a Notice to Owner, which must be sent within 45 days after the service is completed. The Notice to Owner must follow strict guidelines as stated in Chapter 713 of the Florida Statutes, so it’s best to work with an attorney to ensure you follow the proper procedures. If payment is not received even after sending the Notice to Owner, our legal team will follow up with a Claim of Lien and the appropriate legal action to ensure you’re paid for your work.  

Defective Materials  

Another reason for construction disputes is claims of defective products or materials. According to Florida Statute 558.002(5), a construction defect is a deficiency arising from the specifications, planning, supervision, observation, repair, remodeling, or design of a piece of real property. Types of construction defects include:  

  • Defective materials and products by manufacturers  
  • Code violations during the time of construction  
  • Faulty design  
  • Failure to adhere to trade standards and best practices  
  • Premature wood deterioration 
  • Foundation cracks  
  • Sagging or leaning foundation or walls  
  • Faulty wiring  
  • Black mold and other moisture problems  

To file a claim based on a construction defect, you must prove who was legally responsible, such as a construction team, designer, or product manufacturer. Construction defects can take years to discover; sometimes, they aren’t visible until a storm or remodeling project exposes them. After the defect is found, property owners have four years to file a claim. They must also notify the negligent party 60 days before filing a claim. 

Contract Disputes  

Unclear contracts are another common cause of construction disputes. Contracts should provide all the necessary information needed to ensure the construction company and business owner are on the same page. Some things that should be included in a construction contract are a lien warning, a detailed project description (including the scope of work, documentation, and role designation), cost estimates, and the process of submitting a change order clause. Learn more about what to include in a construction contract here.  

Bid Disputes  

Disputes over the accuracy and completeness of a construction bid can lead to a formal bid dispute against the company or organization that requested it. There are two general types of bid disputes: pre-award and post-award. Pre-award disputes challenge the process of selecting a winning bid by the business owner. A post-award dispute challenges the construction company that won the bid. Post-award disputes can be filed due to the legitimacy of the construction company (such as being unlicensed), failure to complete a bid by the required deadline, or errors in the bid itself.  

Boutty Law Firm—Experienced Construction Lawyer 

Legal construction issues are complex and extremely detailed, so it’s essential to use an attorney that is experienced in the construction industry. Attorney Benjamin Shane Boutty has over 20 years of experience as a certified contractor and construction company owner. Now, he uses his expertise to help you with any legal issue regarding construction projects, no matter how complicated. Contact us today at 407-710-0540 to schedule a free consultation.  

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Facing,Custom,Built-in,Shelves,And,Cabinets,Design,Drawing,Gradating,To

Guide to Obtaining a New Commercial Building Permit

The Florida Building Code is a group of regulations specified in Florida Statute 553.79. It requires businesses, individuals, and contractors to obtain necessary permits when “constructing, erecting, altering, repairing, or demolishing” a building. These regulations are intended to keep employees, patrons, and visitors safe while on the premises and help buildings withstand natural disasters like hurricanes. While the state dictates the requirements that make up the Florida Building Code, each county has specific requirements for obtaining a building permit. In addition, different permits are needed if you are constructing a new commercial building, renovating an old one, or building a new residential property. Below, we discuss the requirements for obtaining a new construction commercial building permit in Orange County, Florida.

Required Documents for New Commercial Building Permit Application

Contractors must submit various documents online to apply for a new commercial construction permit in Orange County. In most cases, contractors must be the ones to apply for the permit and accept the issuance once it is approved. A business owner can apply for a permit if the project costs less than $75,000. Contractors must submit their application for new construction along with the appropriate documents through Orange County’s Fast Track online permit system (described in detail below). Necessary documents that are required to accompany the initial application include:

  • Site plan or survey (including dimensions and location)
  • Project scope signed and sealed by a licensed Florida architect or engineer
  • Life safety plans
  • Floor plan
  • Construction type
  • Occupancy classification
  • Energy conservation code
  • Fire flow calculation
  • Door and window installation plan and product description

 How to Apply for a New Commercial Building Permit

1. Fill out the Fast Track application.

Orange County uses an online portal called Fast Track for all permit applications. Filling out the online application and uploading the necessary documents is the first step in obtaining a new commercial construction permit.

2. Upload documents.

Follow the instructions for uploading documents carefully, including required file types and names to ensure your application is processed promptly. In addition to the documents mentioned above, you must complete a Commercial Plan Review checklist and pay a deposit fee.

3. Project and plans review.

An inspector will review the online application and ensure it complies with all elements of the Florida Building and Fire Prevention codes. Depending on the type of construction, there may be additional reviews that are required.

4. Approval or denial.

After the review process, you will receive an email with either a permit approval notice or a denial. If you are denied, you can utilize the comments within the application to resubmit your permit after revising your building plans. If your application is accepted, the permit status will change to “final issuance,” and you will be emailed a final issue letter. You will also need to sign and notarize the second page of the new building application and resubmit it to Fast Track.

5. Pay permit fees.

6. Apply for sub-permits.

Additional permits may be required depending on the type of building. You may need to apply for a sub-permit for the building’s electrical, roofing, gas, irrigation, plumbing, or mechanical elements.

7. Notice of commencement.

This notice needs to be signed with a certified copy uploaded into the Fast Track system before the first inspection.

8. Schedule the first inspection.

9. Final inspection and permit completion.

Boutty Law Firm: Business and Construction Attorney in Central Florida

 Attorney Shane Boutty, P.A., has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry and is experienced in all aspects of commercial law. If you believe your new construction project has been denied unfairly, or you have issues regarding new building inspections, we can help ensure your project stays on track and up to code. Call our office in Maitland at 407-710-0461 for a free initial consultation.

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