Florida Legislature passes condo safety measure that regulates inspections of aging structures

Nearly a year after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, the Florida legislature passed a condominium safety measure that regulates inspections of aging structures. It ensures that buildings maintain funds for necessary repairs.

“The purpose of this bill is to make sure our constituents are safe and that we can prevent any tragedy from happening like they did in Surfside,” Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) said. .

In Surfside, investigators found that the Champlain Towers board was aware the building had major problems, but had delayed repairs for years because it did not maintain reserve funds to pay for them. . Although inspectors estimated the building needed about $16 million in repairs, the Champlain Towers only had $770,000 in their reserves.

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It’s not an illegal practice, but lawmakers have said that needs to change.

“Some of these homeowners associations aren’t making these improvements because they don’t have the money,” Toledo laments. “But it’s not something for sure, obviously. You saw what happened at Surfside. As an engineer, it’s something unacceptable that they kind of put it behind them and turn their cheeks.”

HB 5 will ensure that condominium associations cannot defer payments for necessary repairs. As of December 31, 2024, boards will be required to maintain reserve funds for maintenance without being able to waive collection.

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“Most of them don’t today. They kick the road, because they don’t want that cost,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Daniel Perez ( R-Miami). “What we’ve done is stand firm in our position, and we’ve been able to win here collectively and make sure the associations collect reserves for the structural integrity components no matter what. You can’t there anymore. to renouncer.”

The legislation also mandates routine inspections for aging condominium buildings in the state. Now all buildings over three stories and 30 or more years old, or over 25 years old if the building is within three miles of the coast, must be inspected and recertified. Inspections will have to be carried out every 10 years thereafter. An estimated 900,000 condominiums in Florida are over 30 years old.

The measure passed in the Senate on Tuesday evening and in the House with unanimous support on Wednesday afternoon.

Ida M. Morgan