Many Florida contractors and license holders have a general understanding of the requirements of Chapter 489, however there are some requirements that seem to be neglected. All too often, a contractor will “lose” or “destroy” project records prematurely. This can actually make it more difficult to defend against a claim of defective construction and can result in contractor discipline. This post will cover the requirements of Florida contractors to maintain business and financial records.
Section 489.124, Florida Statutes specifically addresses this requirement for Florida Contractors. This statute provides that all contractors who are registered or certified under Chapter 489 must maintain complete business and financial records for the immediately preceding 3 years.
The business and financial records to be maintained shall include:
- Minutes of corporate meetings
- Business contacts
- Telephone records
- Insurance policies
- Letters of complaint
- Notices received from government entities
- Bank statements
- Canceled checks
- Records of accounts receivable and payable
- Financial statements
- Loan documents
- Tax returns
- All other business and financial records the contractor maintains in the regular course of business.
The last requirement to maintain all other business and financial records in the “regular course of business” has not received any judicial interpretation. However, the plain language of the requirement would indicate this refers to all project documents, as well. Contractors are in the “business” of construction and project documents would be a business record created in the regular course. If a contractor prematurely disposes of business records, it may subject him or her to adverse jury instructions and discipline on the construction license.
Additionally, a Florida contractor is “solely responsible” for notifying the department in writing of their current mailing address and phone number. If the mailing address is not the Contractor’s physical address, then they must also supply the physical address. The failure to notify the Department of a change of address or phone number shall constitute a violation of Section 489.124 and subject the Contractor to discipline. In addition, the Contractor is responsible for retaining proof that they have notified the department of the current address of record. A contractor’s failure to affirmatively so notify the department can result in a loss of additional rights. See Griffis v. DBPR, 90 So.3d 320 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012) (holding that a licensee cannot complain about improper service if they have failed to update the physical address as required by 489.124, Florida Statutes). When Section 489.124 allows service by regular mail to a Contractor’s address of record and that such mailing constitutes adequate and sufficient notice to the Contractor for any official communication by the board or the department, the importance of maintaining the property address with the Department is paramount.