Legislative Changes for Florida Condos
In the latest Florida legislative session, some major changes were passed that will affect condo associations. This new bill was largely triggered by the tragic collapse of the Surfside condominium in Miami where almost 100 people died. Our partners at Blue Ocean Title discussed some of the changes that we can expect to see in the next few years.
Senate Bill 4-D has two primary changes for condo and co-op associations. Beginning in 2024, condos satisfying conditions regarding height, age, and distance from the coastline, will be required to address structural safety issues with a Milestone Inspection Report and a Structural Integrity Reserve Study Report (SIRS) which will investigate structural reserve funding.
This bill will affect condos and co-ops that are 3 or more stories high and either 25 or 30 years old, depending on their distance from the coast. The process to secure the Milestone report will then have to be repeated every 10 years thereafter. Phase 1 requires a visual inspection for substantial structural deterioration and Phase 2 would be results of the testing required if substantial structural deterioration is observed. The frequency of conducting these reports could be different if a local enforcement agency calls for an inspection at any time.
For the Milestone report, the condo association will have to arrange and pay for the inspection which must be conducted by a Florida licensed Engineer or Architect. This report will include any structural deterioration, a recommendation for repairs, any unsafe or dangerous conditions, and areas needing further inspection. A summary that contains any material findings will also be required.
The SIRS has a few different triggers than the Milestone report and may not be needed by all associations. For those existing before July 2022, that are 3 stories or higher, the SIRS must be updated every 10 years. This report looks at the reserve funds required for future major repairs and replacements of common areas. The study will investigate many things including roofs, primary structures, load bearing walls, and numerous other categories and provide estimated remaining useful life and estimated replacement costs or deferred maintenance expenses. The report will also include a recommended annual reserve amount.
These new requirements may be costly for condominium owners, especially in developments where the association has not adequately funded reserve accounts. Some condo association boards have been hesitant to raise monthly association fees, essentially “kicking the can down the road”. Should the engineering study identify issues in the building that need to be addressed and/or require greater reserve funding, the condo association members may be hit with sizable assessments.
If you're considering a condominium purchase, make sure you ask for the most recent budget, a copy of the reserve accounts and any recent engineering studies. This information will be an important part of your purchasing decision.
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