The recent mortgage crisis-and the subsequent increase in property foreclosure proceedings-has left Florida’s real property law in a state of flux. Specifically, a rise in vacant or abandoned properties due to a decrease in home equity has led to a surge of municipal code violations, which affect a purchaser’s rights and duties related to a piece of real property. In light of a real estate practitioner’s duty to ascertain title and determine whether any judgments or leans exist against a seller’s real property before advising his or her client to purchase that piece of real property, these code violations have left practitioners wondering how to properly advise their clients during the purchase process.

This Article addresses numerous issues related to the treatment of code enforcement violations under existing Florida law. Specifically, it discusses whether code enforcement violations run with the land; whether homestead exemptions apply to attempts to enforce and collect code enforcement liens; how the “first in time, first in right” rule applies to duly filed and recorded code enforcement liens and mortgages that encumber the real property; what effect the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in City of Palm Bay v. Wells Fargo, N.A. should have on real property encumbered by a mortgage and code enforcement lien; whether unrecorded violations affect a current owner’s title to real property; whether code violations begin to accrue on a specific date and how long they last; whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Due Process Clause of Article I, Section 9, of the Florida Constitution compel notice of code enforcement proceedings to protected and interested parties beyond actual owners; and whether there should be one or more code enforcement proceedings in obtaining administrative finality. Addressing each of these open issues in turn, the Author provides a practical and workable understanding of a real estate practitioner’s duty when advising his or her client on the desirability of a real property purchase.