When performing due diligence research on a potential option property, you should always double-check the information that you have about the property with the following government offices:
1. Local zoning department: Whatever you do, do not just assume that the zoning designations shown on the latest tax roll are accurate. You must always verify zoning designations with your local zoning department. For example, when I need to verify a zoning designation in Tampa, all I have to do is call the city zoning department and give them the property's tax folio number. They in turn look up the folio number on their computerized zoning maps and tell me the property's current zoning designation.
2. Local code enforcement department: In most areas, when properties are ordered vacated and repaired because of building, safety, or health code violations, brightly colored (usually dark red or orange) placards are conspicuously posted on the property. However, some property owners will try to conceal the fact that their property has been cited for code violations, commonly referred to as being red-tagged. They do this by illegally removing code violation placards from their buildings. And this is why you need to check with your local code enforcement department to verify that a property's certificate of occupancy has not been revoked because of code violations.
3. Property tax collector's office: Check with your county property tax collector's office to verify the property's tax payment status and to see whether any tax liens are recorded against it.
4. City and county clerk's offices: Check with your city or county clerk's office to see whether there are any liens recorded against a property for nonpayment of municipal services such as water, sewage, solid waste, and gas.
5. City, county, and state environmental protection agencies. Check with your city, county, and state environmental protection agencies to see if the property has been cited for having any type of environmentally hazardous waste on it.
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