40 Year Safety Inspection Committee: Changes Will Directly Affect the Future of Our Aging Buildings

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

September 23, 2021

“While the catalyst for the committee was the tragic Champlain Tower collapse, there were no discussions about it. Our goal was to develop recommendations to send to the State, Board of Rules and Appeals, municipalities, condominium boards and residents.” Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

Over the last 5 weeks I have had the honor to work on the 40 Year Safety Inspection Committee. Mayor Steve Geller established the committee composed of Senators Book and Thurston, Representatives Gottlieb and LeMarca, Mayor Bolin, Commissioners Monlina-Macfie and Shuham, Michael Chapnick, Esq. Condo Lawyer, President Toby Feuer of Bon Adventure Council, President Johnson of Broward Palm Beach and Dade Realtors, Chair Dan Lavrich of Board of Rules and Appeals, President Nesbitt of Galt Miles Association, Director Dr. Jurado from Broward Environmental Protection, Maite Azcoitia, Esq. Deputy County Attorney and myself. All were picked due to our specialties and connection to legislative policy making.

The committee met for over 25 hours to review all aspects of the 40 Year Program and other items that directly affect the future of our aging buildings. There was expert testimony on insurance and future impacts of not fixing buildings, environmental impacts of sea level on structures including seawalls, engineering and waterproofing, concrete restoration and testing, reserve studies and their importance, building officials on the current state of the program and robust discussions on condo board governance and regulations. We also had a day for the public to make comments.

While the catalyst for the committee was the tragic Champlain Tower collapse there were no discussions about it. Our goal was to develop recommendations to send to the State, Board of Rules and Appeals, municipalities, condominium boards and residents. Some of our findings will require changes in Tallahassee to be approved regarding condo laws and other statutes related to building codes. Some items we can do locally. My goal is to do all we can do locally and lobby the state to approve changes.

Our committee is not the only group working on these issues, but we are one group that had participation from 2 Senators and 2 Representatives, all part of leadership. Miami Dade has had the benefit of Senator Garcia and Rodrigues who also have been working on condo reform and 40-year safety issues.

Our last meeting, we reviewed over 22 recommendations and voted on a final recommendation. The final report has not been issued. The major highlights include that associations budgets include reserve accounts for concrete restoration, statutes include that reserves can only be waived if there is a reserves study at least every three years and the waiver must be approved by 75% of unit owners in a meeting quorum, all sellers of the units must provide information relating to all studies, waivers and condo documentation, realtors contracts must include disclosure of reserves and any waivers, the 40 year will be changed to 30 year with ability for 3 year phase in, inspections to happen every 5 years, seawall inspections to be included, a change in the notification process will start two years earlier, it requires that boards must distribute the inspection report to all owners and conduct a meeting to present the report even if the condo has no deficiencies, requires that that the condo must have insurance, requires that any condo over 50 units or having a budget of over 100,000 needs to have a professionally certified condo manager or that at least three of the board members have taken the required education courses, increase that amount of educational requirement for CAMs to include three hours including educational units in building inspections and maintenance, require the CAMs to file a report in writing to the board of any building inspection issues or concerns, remove the certification waiver form for confirming board education and requires that board members have a minimum of 3 hours every two years that will include condo maintenance, the $4 dollars that is paid per door be only used for its intended purpose and not be swept into the general fund, fully support the ombudsmen and increase his ability to provide education and lastly to have the property appraiser include in the TRIM notices for all unit owners educational material on their responsibilities as unit owners.

As you can see, we covered a lot of bases and now, Staff will be drafting the final recommendations. Our legislators have already started committee meetings in Tallahassee so our local elections will be putting together the proper bills. Once they are drafted, I will keep our readers informed. Considering the tragic collapse and the broad coalition of groups working together hopefully the State will see fit to correct years of erosion to the condominium laws which have created loopholes that have adversely impacted our residents.

As a city we will continue to do what we can to ensure buildings are following the rules. Educating our residents will also be critical. I hope to meet with one or more of my colleagues to see what we can do as a municipality in ties in the event items do not pass in the State.

As always, I am available anytime for your questions, concerns and ideas to make our City, a better place, on my phone/text at: (954) 632-5700. Or you can e-mail me at: jcooper@cohb.org. Please visit my Facebook Page: MayorJoyCooper. Like It! Friend It! Share It!