FOIA request. How much info do they have to give me?

3 Replies

Howdy. I'm trying to gather as much info as possible on a number of properties I'm considering buying in the midwest. Rather than find and contact each owner, I am trying to gather the information through a FOIA request - a technique I saw suggested by someone up here on Bigger Pockets.

Below is the email I've written, and the (largely) unhelpful reply I've gotten.


"Hello. I am considering investing money into the [city] area by purchasing a number of single family residences (listed below), rehabilitating them, and making them available to renters. For purposes of due diligence, I want to gather the following information for the properties listed below.

Please provide a list of any code violations, liens, judgments, last 12 months of water billing, building permits issued, last 12 months of refuse service billing for the following properties."


The city responded that there were "no code violations" for the properties, and that's it.

I wrote again, thanking her for her hard work, and asking when I will be receiving the other information I requested. Her response follows.


"I can provide you with the Customer Service phone number for information regarding water/sewer/waste charges for the locations that you listed. We are unable to provide you with any other information listed, as it is not a service provided by the City of []. The City of [] Customer Service Call Center – Water is xxx-333-xxxx. Thank you and have a great weekend."


I only submitted a FOIA request after I was turned away by this city's power and water. They only deal with owners. I believe power is private. Everything else is government.

Can I push this FOIA request further with this executive assistant to the CMO of this city?

Should I submit the same FOIA request to other city agencies?

How would you gather info on utilities, liens, building permits from roughly six properties you're considering buying?

Thank you!

Steven Joseph Fogarty

Las Vegas newbie real estate investor

Water and sewer are the only government provided utilities in Las Vegas and north Las Vegas. (Although NLV may collect for republic services?)

Any liens are going to be paid off by the title company at closing. You’re going to have to check for contractor and IRS liens anyway (probably 10x more likely than utilities.)

I can’t believe they didn’t charge you, below is the water departments rquest page, @ 50 cents per page plus any actual  cost.

Ps. I’ve bought a dozen houses in Las Vegas and NLV skipping Thai step completely. Most deals will be contingent before you ever hear back from one of these departments. But mostly, these are small claims compared to contractor and IRS and again all things title company and title insurance will catch and subtract from sellers funds. 

Anyone suggesting the FOIA route for this is just clueless, or just spouting BS..  You are asking for "research" as opposed to copies of an identified particular document.  Agencies aren't required to generate lists for you.. As for liens, judgments, etc., if you you don't know how to research them you need to pay for a title search.  In most areas you can get a city/municipal lien search for unrecorded municpal generated liens, but you have to pay for them.  FOIA also allows you to be charged for costs, if the request is valid.

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