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Contractors and Builders, Keep That Paperwork

ConstLaw

So you have a construction company, or any company in the construction industry, and it’s time to do some house cleaning. You don’t want to be a hoarder, so you start to throw out a bunch of paperwork. It’s old, and you need space, and after all, it’s your business—you can keep or throw out whatever you want, right?

Not exactly. When it comes to construction companies, Florida law has strict requirements on what kind of documents must be preserved.

Requirements to Keep Paperwork

Florida law requires that the following records be maintained for 3 years:

  1. Business contracts and telephone records
  2. Insurance policies
  3. Any letters of complaints, which includes any violation or other notices received by any government agency
  4. Bank statements, and cancelled checks
  5. Financial statements and cancelled checks.
  6. Any documents related to loans
  7. Tax returns
  8. Minutes from any meetings
  9. Records of accounts receivable or payable
  10. Any and all documents related to any project, which isn’t specifically in the statute, but which is referred to as “business and financial records” that are maintained in the “regular course of business.”

That last section is quite broad. It is best interpreted as “everything,” but particularly documents related to individual projects.

Other Problems Can Arise From Trashing Documents

Aside from penalties from the state if any or all of these records are not maintained, which could affect your license, you can end up in trouble should there be any litigation, and you don’t have any of the above documents. The judge can order that the jury assume you are wrong, and the other side is right, if there is a disputed area of fact.

For example, if you and a customer dispute what your contract required, and you did not preserve the contract, the court will assume that it said what the other side believes.

Updating Your Contact Information

The law also requires that you tell the state of any changes of address or phone number, as well as requiring you to have proof that you notified the state of address changes. Aside from penalties from the state, the failure to update contact or mailing address information can mean that you could be sued without your knowledge. That’s because the state will assume that you were properly served, if you were served with the last address on file, even if that isn’t your current, active address.

Note that this is a list of documents and information that you must maintain, according to the state. There are other documents that you should maintain for other reasons. For example, Florida’s laws require that once you have knowledge of a potential lawsuit or claim, that you preserve any possible evidence (even if there’s no lawsuit that has actually been filed).

Call our Fort Lauderdale construction attorneys at Sweeney Law P.A. at 954 440-3993 to help you understand your obligations to the state, and requirements to keep your license valid.

Resource:

floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/spoliated-evidence-better-than-the-real-thing/

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