Florida Passes New Condominium Safety Bill
After the June 24, 2021 partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, FL, which killed 98 people, Florida lawmakers immediately began to search for ways to improve the safety regulations and general standard of living for condo dwellers all across Florida. In late May 2022, the Governor signed what is known as the Condominium Safety Bill into law, which imposes several new changes, including a requirement to fund reserves, which earmarks funds for future repairs. The centerpiece of the new law, however, is brand new inspection and certification requirements for certain condos, as few regulations on the subject existed before.
Reserves Must Now Be Funded ASAP
Before the collapse, the board of Champlain Towers had gotten the news from consultants that expensive repairs were necessary to the safety of the complex – consultants engaged in 2020 to do a review found that there were numerous areas that needed immediate repair, such as the pool deck, the garage, and the concrete ‘structural slab’ around the entire area. However, they lacked reserve funds to get the repairs done – the bill just passed effectively requires that reserves be funded (enough to cover ‘major repairs’) and a study conducted on those reserves every 10 years. If work is required, it must be done within one year of the inspection report’s receipt and the owners notified.
Too often, reserves have been viewed as either unnecessary or too costly by many condo boards, often choosing not to fund them out of fear the condo owners would find the high assessments objectionable. However, assessments are a required part of the duties every condo owner accepts when moving into a complex, and with an increased inspection requirement for many buildings being written into the Condominium Safety Bill, boards are more likely to have the accurate information they need to get repairs started. It is worth it to have reserve accounts funded.
Increased Inspection Requirements
The main crux of the bill is the increased inspections that are now required for all condo buildings every 30 years (or if your building is within 3 miles of the coast, every 25 years), and then every 10 years afterward. In addition, any building whose certificate of occupancy was awarded on or before July 1, 1992 must complete an initial inspection (a ‘structural integrity reserve study’) before the end of 2024. Historically, Miami-Dade and Broward Counties were the only 2 counties in the state that required “recertification” of condominium buildings, but this new law extends the requirement statewide.
The required structural integrity reserve study must include at least certain crucial things – for example, the roof, the floors, the foundation, any electrical systems, plumbing, waterproofing, and anything else that has a “deferred maintenance expense” of more than $10,000, if its replacement would cause harm to any of the other items in the relevant law. If any of the items mentioned in the law have not been investigated and thoroughly checked, the study may not be accepted by your board or other governing authority.
Contact A Tampa Community Association Attorney
The tragedy at Champlain Towers South moved a lot of people, and it is crucial to learn our lessons from its aftermath. Lawmakers have the clear intention to make sure Surfside’s collapse cannot happen again. If you have questions or concerns about the new law, or about how it applies to your condo, contacting a Tampa HOA & condo association attorney may be a good idea. Attorney Alicia Seward and the Seward Law Office can offer compassionate representation during what can be a frightening time for you. Call us today for a free consultation.