Buying and selling property in Florida should, in theory, be a relatively straightforward process, but more often than not, at least a few challenges and complexities seem to arise during the transaction. One that can rear its head during the municipal lien search is the discovery of open permits and property liens. These issues have the potential to delay or even derail a real estate sale.  

Below we’ll share why it’s important to conduct a municipal lien search in addition to a traditional title search and what you can do if you discover issues with the title. 

Understanding the Difference Between a Title Search and Municipal Lien Search 

The role of title companies in Florida is to vet the property’s title. They want to ensure there are no outstanding debts, claims, defects, or other rights or burdens already on the property.  

A traditional title search accomplishes much of this, but it isn’t foolproof and you should press for more. 

Whereas a title search produces results based on county-recorded public records, a municipal lien search is much more thorough. Issues like open or expired permits on a property, unpaid utility bills, or code enforcement violations are often not recorded publicly, so they may not be revealed during a traditional title search. They will, however, be revealed during a municipal lien search. 

Why You Should Insist on a Municipal Lien Search 

Whether known to the seller or not, if your property ends up having an open permit or code violation, you – as the new owner – could be faced with extra costs or delays when you go to try to pull a new permit down the road. You may also face legal liability for the lien. 

This is not a burden you want to bear.  

You also don’t want to encounter such an issue right before closing, but far better to deal with it right away than be stuck with the consequences.  

Issues like open permits can result in closing delays and/or the need for renegotiations. The best way to avoid real estate closing conundrums – or at a minimum, identify and deal with them promptly and effectively, is to hire an experienced real estate attorney and title company. With us, you get both. Our attorneys at the Law Offices of Alex D. Sirulnik, P.A. and ADS Title Services, Inc. are here to help you with all your South Florida real estate law and title services questions. Get in touch with our team today to schedule a free consultation.