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My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program: A New Opportunity for Condo Owners to Boost Resilience

Introduction:

In a significant development for condominium owners in Florida, a new bill introduced to the Florida House of Representatives on Wednesday could open doors to storm-hardening improvements previously limited to single-family homeowners. As the legislative session commences on January 9, the proposed My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program aims to extend inspections and grants to condo associations and unit owners, addressing concerns that have lingered since the inception of the My Safe Florida Home Program.

Key Points:

  • Background:
    • Since the initiation of storm-hardening grants for single-family homeowners, condo owners have felt left out of the equation.
    • The My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program, if enacted on July 1, seeks to bridge this gap, mirroring the existing My Safe Florida Home Program.
  • Scope of Improvements:
    • Wind-resistant windows and exterior doors, including garage doors
    • Reinforcing roof-to-wall connections
    • Strengthening roof-deck attachments
    • Secondary water barrier for roofs
  • Financial Commitment:
    • In November, the Legislature authorized $176 million in addition to the $225 million previously committed to the program.
    • Governor Ron DeSantis proposed $107 million for the program annually, starting in 2024.
  • Legislative Process:
    • Despite a setback in November, an amendment by Representative Hunschofsky aims to address rising costs for condo unit owners.
    • A separate bill for the 2024 session has been proposed after encouragement from legislative leaders.
  • Challenges Faced by Condo Owners:
    • Rising property insurance costs
    • Structural reserve requirements post-Surfside condo building collapse
  • Grant Amounts and Eligibility:
    • No predefined funding or maximum grant amounts in the bill.
    • Proposed grant amounts: $2,500 per unit for projects benefiting the entire association, up to $500,000; $5,000 for individual condo units.
    • Grant applications require approval by association governing boards or eligible unit owners.
  • Operational Details:
    • Program operated by the Department of Financial Services, overseeing the My Safe Florida Home Program.
    • Licensed inspection teams contracted to assess needed improvements.
    • Associations reimbursed $2 for every $1 spent, up to the maximum allowable grant.
  • Department’s Perspective:
    • The Department of Financial Services, responsible for the My Safe Florida Home Program, is currently reviewing the proposed legislation.
    • Emphasis on helping Floridians harden homes against storms and reduce insurance premiums.
  • Community Associations Institute Support:
    • The Community Associations Institute expresses support for the program’s expansion, expecting similar initiatives in upcoming bills.
    • Advocacy for equal benefits for homeowners in both single-family and multi-family common ownership buildings.

Conclusion:

The My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program holds promise for condo owners, offering a chance to fortify their properties against storm damage. As the legislative session unfolds, the program’s fate will be determined, potentially bringing relief and resilience to condominium communities across the state. Stay tuned for updates on this crucial development in Florida’s real estate landscape.