Thursday, June 08, 2017
Florida law on disciplining building officials
468.604 Responsibilities of building code administrators, plans examiners, and inspectors.—
(1) It is the responsibility of the building code administrator or building official to administrate, supervise, direct, enforce, or perform the permitting and inspection of construction, alteration, repair, remodeling, or demolition of structures and the installation of building systems within the boundaries of their governmental jurisdiction, when permitting is required, to ensure compliance with the Florida Building Code and any applicable local technical amendment to the Florida Building Code. The building code administrator or building official shall faithfully perform these responsibilities without interference from any person. These responsibilities include:
(a) The review of construction plans to ensure compliance with all applicable sections of the code. The construction plans must be reviewed before the issuance of any building, system installation, or other construction permit. The review of construction plans must be done by the building code administrator or building official or by a person having the appropriate plans examiner license issued under this chapter.
(b) The inspection of each phase of construction where a building or other construction permit has been issued. The building code administrator or building official, or a person having the appropriate building code inspector license issued under this chapter, shall inspect the construction or installation to ensure that the work is performed in accordance with applicable sections of the code.
(2) It is the responsibility of the building code inspector to conduct inspections of construction, alteration, repair, remodeling, or demolition of structures and the installation of building systems, when permitting is required, to ensure compliance with the Florida Building Code and any applicable local technical amendment to the Florida Building Code. Each building code inspector must be licensed in the appropriate category as defined in s. 468.603. The building code inspector’s responsibilities must be performed under the direction of the building code administrator or building official without interference from any unlicensed person.
(3) It is the responsibility of the plans examiner to conduct review of construction plans submitted in the permit application to assure compliance with the Florida Building Code and any applicable local technical amendment to the Florida Building Code. The review of construction plans must be done by the building code administrator or building official or by a person licensed in the appropriate plans examiner category as defined in s. 468.603. The plans examiner’s responsibilities must be performed under the supervision and authority of the building code administrator or building official without interference from any unlicensed person.
(4) The Legislature finds that the electronic filing of construction plans will increase governmental efficiency, reduce costs, and increase timeliness of processing permits. If the building code administrator or building official provides for electronic filing, then construction plans, drawings, specifications, reports, final documents, or documents prepared or issued by a licensee may be dated and electronically signed and sealed by the licensee in accordance with ss. 668.001-668.006, and may be transmitted electronically to the building code administrator or building official for approval.
History.—s. 2, ch. 98-419; s. 32, ch. 2000-141; s. 13, ch. 2000-372; s. 34, ch. 2001-186; s. 3, ch. 2001-372; s. 4, ch. 2012-13; s. 1, ch. 2012-58.
468.605 Florida Building Code Administrators and Inspectors Board.—
(1) There is created within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation the Florida Building Code Administrators and Inspectors Board. Members shall be appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Members shall be appointed for 4-year terms. No member shall serve more than two consecutive 4-year terms, nor serve for more than 11 years on the board. To ensure continuity of board policies, the Governor shall initially appoint one member for a 1-year term, two members for 2-year terms, two members for 3-year terms, and two members for 4-year terms.
(2) The board shall consist of nine members, as follows:
(a) One member who is an architect licensed pursuant to chapter 481, an engineer licensed pursuant to chapter 471, or a contractor licensed pursuant to chapter 489.
(b) Two members serving as building code administrators.
(c) Two members serving as building code inspectors.
(d) One member serving as a plans examiner.
(e) One member who is a representative of a city or a charter county.
(f) Two consumer members who are not, and have never been, members of a profession regulated under this part, chapter 481, chapter 471, or chapter 489. One of the consumer members must be a person with a disability or a representative of an organization which represents persons with disabilities.
None of the board members described in paragraph (a) or paragraph (f) may be an employee of a municipal, county, or state governmental agency.
History.—s. 24, ch. 93-166; s. 51, ch. 94-119; s. 150, ch. 94-218; s. 3, ch. 98-419; s. 128, ch. 2000-153; s. 14, ch. 2000-372.
468.619 Building code enforcement officials’ bill of rights.—
(1) It is the finding of the Legislature that building code enforcement officials are employed by local jurisdictions to exercise police powers of the state in the course of their duties and are in that way similar to law enforcement personnel, correctional officers, and firefighters. It is the further finding of the Legislature that building code enforcement officials are thereby sufficiently distinguishable from other professionals regulated by the department so that their circumstances merit additional specific protections in the course of disciplinary investigations and proceedings against their licenses.
(2) All enforcement officials licensed under this part shall have the rights and privileges specified in this section. Such rights are not exclusive to other rights, and an enforcement official does not forfeit any rights otherwise held under federal, state, or local law. In any instance of a conflict between a provision of this section and a provision of chapter 455, the provision of this section shall supersede the provision of chapter 455.
(3) Whenever an enforcement official is subjected to an investigative interview for possible disciplinary action by the department, such interview shall be conducted pursuant to the requirements of this subsection.
(a) The interview shall take place at a reasonable hour. If the interview is taken in person, it shall take place not more than 30 miles from where the licensee works, or at any other mutually agreeable location or time.
(b) An enforcement official may not be subjected to an interview without first receiving written notice of sufficient details of the complaint in order to be reasonably apprised of the nature of the investigation and of the substance of the allegations made. The enforcement official shall be informed prior to the interview whether the complaint originated from the department or from a consumer.
(c) At his or her request, an enforcement official under investigation shall have the right to be represented by counsel or by any other representative of his or her choice, who shall be present at such time as the enforcement official wishes during the interview.
(d) During the interview, the enforcement official may not be subjected to offensive language. No promise may be made or reward offered to the enforcement official as an inducement to answer any question.
(e) If requested by the enforcement official, the interview of an enforcement official, including notation of all recess periods, must be recorded on audio tape, or otherwise preserved in such a manner as to allow a transcript to be prepared, and there shall be no unrecorded questions or statements. Upon the request of the enforcement official, a copy of any such recording of the interview must be made available to the enforcement official no later than 72 hours following the interview, excluding holidays and weekends. The expense of the recording and transcript shall be borne by the enforcement official.
(f) If the testimony is transcribed, the transcript must be furnished to the enforcement official for examination, and shall be read to or by the enforcement official, unless waived by all parties involved. Any changes in form or substance that the enforcement official wants to make shall be listed in writing, with a statement of the reasons for making the changes. The changes shall be attached to the transcript. Any transcript of an interview with an enforcement official which is to be used in any proceeding against the enforcement official shall be sworn or affirmed to and acknowledged by the enforcement official.
(4) The investigation of a complaint against an enforcement official is subject to the time restrictions set forth in this subsection, and failure to comply with any time restriction set forth in this subsection shall result in dismissal of the complaint against the enforcement official. An investigation of a complaint against an enforcement official that was dismissed for failure to comply with a time restriction set forth in this subsection may not be reopened. However, in any instance of an additional complaint being initiated, information or investigation related to the dismissed complaint may be used.
(a) The department must inform the enforcement official of any legally sufficient complaint received, including the substance of the allegation, within 10 days after receipt of the complaint by the department.
(b) The enforcement official shall be given 30 days to respond to any legally sufficient complaint.
(c) No longer than 180 days from the date of the receipt of the complaint, the department shall submit the investigation, whether complete or not, to the probable cause panel for review. In the event the investigation is not complete, the probable cause panel shall review and instruct the department to complete the investigation within a time certain and, in no event, greater than 90 days or dismiss the complaint with prejudice.
(5) The enforcement official shall be considered an agent of the governmental entity employing him or her and as such shall be defended by that entity in any action brought by the department or the board, provided the enforcement official is working within the scope of his or her employment.
(6) An enforcement official shall not be subject to disciplinary action in regard to his or her certification for exercising his or her rights under this section.
(7) If any action taken against the enforcement official by the department or the board is found to be without merit by a court of competent jurisdiction, or if judgment in such an action is awarded to the enforcement official, the department or the board, or the assignee of the department or board, shall reimburse the enforcement official or his or her employer, as appropriate, for reasonable legal costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred. The amount awarded shall not exceed the limit provided in s. 120.595.
(8) An enforcement official may bring civil suit against any person, group of persons, or organization or corporation, or the head of such organization or corporation, for damages, either pecuniary or otherwise, suffered pursuant to the performance of the enforcement official’s duties or for abridgement of the enforcement official’s civil rights arising out of the enforcement official’s performance of official duties.
(9) Notwithstanding any other provision in law, while under investigation the enforcement official shall not be denied any and all the rights and privileges of a licensee in good standing.
(10) This bill of rights applies to disciplinary investigations and proceedings against licenses issued under this part and disciplinary investigations and proceedings relating to the official duties of an enforcement official. This bill of rights does not apply to disciplinary investigations and proceedings against other licenses that the enforcement official holds or disciplinary investigations and proceedings unrelated to the enforcement official’s official duties.
History.—s. 18, ch. 2000-372; s. 3, ch. 2007-227.
468.621 Disciplinary proceedings.—
(1) The following acts constitute grounds for which the disciplinary actions in subsection (2) may be taken:
(a) Violating or failing to comply with any provision of this part, or a valid rule or lawful order of the board or department pursuant thereto.
(b) Obtaining certification through fraud, deceit, or perjury.
(c) Knowingly assisting any person practicing contrary to the provisions of:
1. This part; or
2. The building code adopted by the enforcement authority of that person.
(d) Having been convicted of a felony against this state or the United States, or of a felony in another state that would have been a felony had it been committed in this state.
(e) Having been convicted of a crime in any jurisdiction which directly relates to the practice of building code administration or inspection.
(f) Making or filing a report or record that the certificateholder knows to be false, or knowingly inducing another to file a false report or record, or knowingly failing to file a report or record required by state or local law, or knowingly impeding or obstructing such filing, or knowingly inducing another person to impede or obstruct such filing.
(g) Failing to properly enforce applicable building codes or permit requirements within this state which the certificateholder knows are applicable or committing willful misconduct, gross negligence, gross misconduct, repeated negligence, or negligence resulting in a significant danger to life or property.
(h) Issuing a building permit to a contractor, or any person representing himself or herself as a contractor, without obtaining the contractor’s certificate or registration number, where such a certificate or registration is required.
(i) Failing to lawfully execute the duties and responsibilities specified in this part and ss. 553.73, 553.781, 553.79, and 553.791.
(j) Performing building code inspection services under s. 553.791 without satisfying the insurance requirements of that section.
(k) Obstructing an investigation or providing or inducing another to provide forged documents, false forensic evidence, or false testimony to a local or state board or member thereof or to a licensing investigator.
(l) Accepting labor, services, or materials at no charge or at a noncompetitive rate from any person who performs work that is under the enforcement authority of the enforcement official and who is not an immediate family member of the enforcement official. The term “immediate family member” includes a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or first cousin of the person or the person’s spouse or any person who resides in the primary residence of the enforcement official.
(2) When the board finds any person guilty of any of the grounds set forth in subsection (1), it may enter an order imposing one or more of the following penalties:
(a) Denial of an application for certification.
(b) Permanent revocation.
(c) Suspension of a certificate.
(d) Imposition of an administrative fine not to exceed $5,000 for each separate offense. Such fine must be rationally related to the gravity of the violation.
(e) Issuance of a reprimand.
(f) Placement of the certificateholder on probation for a period of time and subject to such conditions as the board may impose, including alteration of performance level.
(g) Satisfactory completion of continuing education.
(h) Issuance of a citation.
(3) Where a certificate is suspended, placed on probation, or has conditions imposed, the board shall reinstate the certificate of a disciplined building code administrator, plans examiner, or building code inspector upon proof the disciplined individual has complied with all terms and conditions set forth in the final order.
(4) No person may be allowed to apply for certification under this part for a minimum of 5 years after the date of revocation of any certificate issued pursuant to this part. The board may by rule establish additional criteria for certification following revocation.
History.—s. 24, ch. 93-166; s. 9, ch. 98-287; s. 8, ch. 99-254; s. 9, ch. 99-386; s. 118, ch. 2000-141; s. 19, ch. 2000-372; s. 35, ch. 2001-186; s. 4, ch. 2001-372; s. 3, ch. 2005-147; s. 2, ch. 2005-216; s. 4, ch. 2007-227.
468.629 Prohibitions; penalties.—
(1) No person may:
(a) Falsely hold himself or herself out as a certificateholder.
(b) Falsely impersonate a certificateholder.
(c) Present as his or her own the certificate of another.
(d) Give false or forged evidence to the board or the department, or a member, an employee, or an officer thereof, for the purpose of obtaining a certificate.
(e) Use or attempt to use a certificate which has been suspended or revoked.
(f) Threaten, coerce, trick, persuade, or otherwise influence, or attempt to threaten, coerce, trick, persuade, or otherwise influence, any certificateholder to violate any provision of this part.
(g) Offer any compensation to a certificateholder in order to induce a violation of this part, a local building code or ordinance, or another law of this state.
(2) Any person who violates any provision of this part commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Any person who violates any provision of this part after a previous conviction for such violation commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.—s. 24, ch. 93-166.
468.633 Authority of local government.—
(1) Nothing in this part may be construed to restrict the authority of local governments to require as a condition of employment that building code administrators, plans examiners, and building code inspectors possess qualifications beyond the requirements for certification contained in this part.
(2) The discipline of any person pursuant to s. 468.621 shall, as a matter of law, constitute just or substantial cause for discharge from employment.
(3) The certification or discipline of a local government’s employees pursuant to this part shall not be construed as a waiver of sovereign immunity by the local government.
History.—s. 24, ch. 93-166; s. 22, ch. 2000-372.