The condo safety law introduced in response to the tragic Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside in June 2021 brings significant changes to condominium and homeowners’ associations in Florida. Here are some key provisions and implications of the law:
- Reserve Funding Requirement: Condo and homeowners’ associations are no longer allowed to waive the funding of their reserves. They have until the end of 2024 to increase their monthly dues or impose special assessments to fully fund their reserves. This requirement is intended to ensure that associations have sufficient funds to cover necessary maintenance and repairs.
- Structural Integrity Reserve Studies: Buildings are now required to have an architect or engineer complete structural integrity reserve studies. These studies determine the amount that buildings must have in their reserves to address structural maintenance and repairs effectively.
- Inspections: Buildings that are three stories or taller must undergo inspections when they reach 30 years of age, or at 25 years if they are within three miles of the coastline. Subsequent inspections are required every 10 years. This aims to identify structural issues and maintenance needs in a timely manner.
- Local Agency Discretion: The proposed legislation gives local agencies the authority to decide if condo and co-op buildings near the coastline need to be inspected at 25 years, with a general requirement of 30 years. Local agencies can also extend inspection deadlines if associations have valid reasons for delays.
- Enforcement Variability: Enforcement of these regulations may vary based on the discretion of local agencies, allowing some flexibility for associations and owners.
- Owner Notifications: Associations are required to notify owners about the need for milestone inspections within two weeks of receiving a written notice from their municipality.
- Reserve Funding Waiver: Condo boards can temporarily waive full or partial funding of financial reserve requirements until the end of 2024, but only with a majority vote of the entire building’s voting interests. This provision aims to provide short-term financial relief to communities facing financial challenges.
- Alternative Funding: Beginning in 2025, boards can vote to provide no reserves or partial reserves for specific items, like a roof, if alternative funding methods, such as loans, are in place.
- Citizens Property Insurance: Condo owners covered by state-backed Citizens Property Insurance are not required to obtain flood insurance.
- Fiduciary Duties: The law clarifies that board members must have “willfully and knowingly” failed to complete a structural integrity reserve study for it to be considered a breach of their fiduciary duties.
- Mediation Requirement: Disputes related to inspections, reserves, or repairs must undergo mediation before lawsuits can be filed, effective July 1, 2027.
Overall, this legislation aims to enhance the safety and financial stability of condo and homeowners’ associations in Florida, while also providing some flexibility and relief for associations facing financial challenge