Should Florida Citizens have an expectation of privacy? What, if any, are the limits for a code inspector to enter a property for inspection?
Below are answers to some of our most commonly received questions. If your question isn’t answered below, please feel free to submit it through the “Contact Us” portion of the website and we will answer you directly.
Code Violation Complaints
Absolutely! You have every right to report any issue to your local code enforcement office. However, beginning July 1, 2021 the State of Florida passed a law stating that complaints can no longer be made anonymously.
The new law states, “A code enforcement officer may not initiate an investigation of a potential violation of a duly enacted code or ordinance by way of an anonymous complaint. A person who reports a potential violation of a code or an ordinance must provide his or her name and address to the respective local government before an investigation may occur.”
By making a complaint through Privacy Partners, you are able to preserve your anonymity from the public record. If a public records request is made upon for your complaint, only the business name and address for Privacy Partners will appear.
Yes! There is one exception outlined in the law that states, “This paragraph does not apply if the code enforcement officer has reason to believe that the violation presents an imminent threat to public health, safety, or welfare or imminent destruction of habitat or sensitive resources.”
Great Question! Privacy Partners can act as your proxy in non-criminal, quasi-judicial settings as a qualified "person" under both Federal and State statutues.
Federal statutes that refer to “persons” generally include corporations (and other associations) unless a different definition is given. This general rule of interpretation is specified in Title 1, section 1 of the U.S. Code, known as the Dictionary Act, which states:
In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise—the words "person" and "whoever" include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals;
Additionally, the State of Florida has defined "person" in statute as: individuals, children, firms, associations, joint adventures, partnerships, estates, trusts, business trusts, syndicates, fiduciaries, corporations, and all other groups or combinations. (FS 1.01(3))
It is entirely up to you how detailed you want to be during your complaint. The more information you are able to provide, the easier the code enforcement investigation will be.
Public Records Requests
There is no universal definition of "Public Record". Each state and level of government defines their public records differently.
For the State of Florida, governmental jurisdictions define "Public Records" as all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.
The Federal government is governed by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the definitions and exemptions are contained therein. It is important to note that both definitions and exemptions from federal law may not always be the same as state law.
Absolutely! Any person can submit an anonymous request for records in the State of Florida. There is no requirement that it be written or that you give any personally identifying information.
So why choose Privacy Partners then? We have an extensive knowledge and experience of working in government records offices and will use our resources to assist you in retrieving your requests quickly and efficiently. We will work with you on wording to make sure that you are asking the correct questions in the most concise and correct way. We will also work for you to ensure that you are getting only the records you want, but all the records you are asking. This includes assistance in narrowing or broadening requests, as well as conducting basic research into local laws, policies and ordinances that may require records to be kept.
Generally no. Unless the requested information is confidential and exempt as permitted only by State Statute, a custodian of public records must honor a request for records, whether it is made in person, over the telephone, or in writing. In general, a requestor cannot be required to disclose the reason for the request.