Condominium

Legislature Proposes Reforms Called For Condominium Safety | Opinion

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A search and rescue team member in the South Champlain Towers debris field in Surfside on July 7, 2021.

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After much back and forth during this year’s regular legislative session, none of the condominium security reforms that were in the spotlight after the Champlain Towers tragedy have passed. As my partner at the law firm Gary Mars wrote in a previous column, this came as no surprise to many of us in the community association industry, as the changes involved extremely difficult issues and there seemed to be having little, if any, legislative consensus ahead of the session. .

Given the apparent lack of momentum, the idea that state lawmakers would reach an agreement for sweeping reforms at the recent special session devoted to home insurance would have been considered equally unlikely. However, in a surprise move worthy of praise given the vastness of the stakes, House and Senate lawmakers unanimously passed arguably the most far-reaching condominium security reforms in Florida since the hurricane Andrew.

The changes include numerous proposals from engineering industry task forces, legal and community associations to investigate the perceived shortcomings that led to the Surfside disaster. They require inspections for buildings of three stories or more 30 years after completion and every 10 years thereafter. Buildings within three miles of the coast must be inspected every 25 years, then every 10 years. The first buildings affected are expected to be those built before July 1, 1992, as they must complete their first structural inspections by December 31, 2024.

Inspections aim to identify any significant structural deterioration that may present life safety hazards and whether corrective or preventive repairs are recommended. Reports of their findings should be distributed to association unit owners, potential buyers and local building departments, who can then require repairs to begin within specified timeframes if significant deficiencies are identified.

Associations will also be required to conduct reserve studies every 10 years for funding structural repairs and, importantly, from 2025 they will no longer be allowed to waive funding for many reserve items.

Condominium developers are also facing new requirements. Prior to completion and their transfer of control of the new associations to unit owners, they are required to conduct a baseline structural survey and analysis of future maintenance and repair needs covering all primary structural elements, foundations, roofs and other essential building components. They must also open and start funding a reserve account, which will be provided to the new owner-controlled association.

To give the law more teeth and help ensure compliance, it also includes provisions that expose condo corporation board members to personal liability if they ignore new compliance requirements. inspection and study of reserve/financing.

These requirements for developers and condominium corporations to conduct inspections and survey/found reservations truly represent a monumental step in the evolution of the state’s condominium laws. Indeed, they make the decisions whether or not to collect the necessary funds from the owners, carry out the appropriate inspections and act on their discovery of the hands of the volunteer members of the board of directors. All associations will be required to raise the funds and take the effective action required, and records documenting everything will essentially be open to everyone.

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Associations will also be required to conduct reserve studies every 10 years for funding structural repairs and, importantly, from 2025 they will no longer be allowed to waive funding for many reserve items. Miami

As with any radical new reform that imposes substantial costs and demands, the focus next will be on how it will all be paid for. A recent proposal by U.S. Representatives in Florida called for new federally backed low-interest loans for unit owners to pay for new condo association assessments for reserves and the repairs. Additionally, the Community Associations Institute is opening discussions with federal officials on a framework for the Federal Housing Administration to provide 30-year loans to condo associations and housing co-ops to finance repairs. structural.

These new measures and others from the federal and state governments could help ease the financial burdens that these reforms could impose on Florida condominium owners, who can soon be assured that the structural elements of their buildings and others in the state will receive the necessary items. Warning.

These measures are expected to help make Florida condominiums stronger and safer, and they should be welcomed by anyone hoping to never see another horrific tragedy like the one that killed 98 people in Surfside again. June 24, 2021.

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Roberto C. Blanch is a shareholder in the Coral Gables-based law firm Siegfried Rivera.

Roberto C. Blanch is a shareholder in the Coral Gables-based law firm Siegfried Rivera, which is certified in community association law by the Florida Bar. He is one of the firm’s most prolific contributors to his association law blog at www.FloridaHOALawyerBlog.com. . [email protected], www.SiegfriedRivera.com305-442-3334.

Read past Real Estate Advisor columns at www.miamiherald.com:

Federal and State Reforms Needed to Fix Florida’s Home Insurance Problems

What are the common traits of excellent community association boards?

— Possible $8 million fraud against Florida community associations is a red flag

Southwest Florida Community Associations Appear to Be Victims of Massive Fraud

–Jacksonville condo’s leak-proof suit makes local headlines, reveals eye-opening lessons

–Electric vehicle chargers at or near the top of many condo community wish lists

–Condo terminations are emerging as an exit strategy for owners of aging towers

— What’s next for condo security reforms after the legislature fails to act?

–All eyes are on the Florida legislature for high-rise building safety reforms


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