An Informative Town Hall In Hallandale Beach: Senator Pizzo Gives Residents, Condo, Vacation Rentals & Insurance Updates
By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper
November 9, 2023
Florida Legislators have begun what are called committee weeks. During this time is when members from both chambers submit Sponsored Bills into the process. They also are required to pass a State Budget. Our local Representatives Marie Woodson, Hillary Cassel and Senator Pizzo have already started working with the Commission and our Staff on our priorities. Senator Pizzo approached me to host a local meeting to discuss Condominium Laws and other issues with our residents. I, along with my colleagues, hosted the meeting on October 30th. Special thanks to CAO Bakery that provided refreshments.
I have gotten to know Senator Pizzo over the past two years. We used to be represented by Senator Lauren Book. During the redistricting process the state redistricted the maps and carved out Book who does live in Davie but also put her head-to-head in the Senate Race against Barbara Sharief. As a note Barbara is now running for that seat which will be open now in 2024 due to term limits. Senator Pizzo's district runs all along the South Florida Coast. District 37 is along Broward, Miami Dade and dips into parts of Monroe County. Sunny Isles is where he resides in a condominium.
Since the Senator lives in a condo, he is well poised and totally versed in Condominium Laws. He was raised in NYC and Graduated University of Miami Law School. Sadly, he was on hand during the Champlain Tower Collapse and had to witness many deaths. He shared with us that as a former State Prosecutor focused on murder cases he had the grit to work side by side with emergency management. It took his knowledge and strength to make sure the Surfside tragedy would not happen again.
As we all know there was a ground shift in Florida after the collapse. Our Counties and State took steps to evaluate the building safety requirements to make recommendations on changes to close loopholes with the system to help prevent it happening again. I actually served on Broward County’s Taskforce. No longer can condos owners Waive Reserves. Condos MUST do milestone inspections and then provide a plan to place Funds in Reserves. This ensures much-needed repairs or replacements are already funded in their Budgets. The majority of people in the audience had more questions about the costs than the concept. In my opinion this was a good sign.
The discussion was more around costs and how people, particularly seniors, can pay for Reserves. The Senator was very empathic but also shared that the super majority of Representatives and Senators will not support a bailout for unit owners. There is a disconnect since many do not understand the issue and believe many units are simply second homes. He will be working on making sure there are other financial vehicles through lenders to help those unable to pay up front and also vehicles for the Condominiums to borrow Funds.
The concept of what is included in the Milestone Inspections was also touched on. The Senator suggested that some of the items on the list which was created, were too broad. He also discussed that condos that are already doing repairs such as Roof and Concrete Restoration can be considered for collecting reserves. Items such as a roof that may last 15 – 20 years can be addressed when the end-of-life date triggers the milestone. As with any new laws there definitely needs to be more clarity.
Another huge issue discussed was the Department of Business And Professional Regulations. It is obvious that this department is understaffed and not budgeted properly. His goal is to separate out Condominiums and have a free-standing agency. In addition, create more teeth in what they can do. The senator also discussed making the Breach Of Regulations more stringent and in some cases criminal.
The other topic was insurance. We all know that the rates have skyrocketed. They have always been gradually going up, but the past two years have been the worst with the rates having tripled. Our average home rate is 6,000 per year whereas the national average is 1,500. The Senator shared some eye-opening information about what the state did. With the changes in regular citizens not being able to challenge insurance companies without going into their own pockets to cover legal fees. The law will create more insurance companies. He actually told the story about one Senator approaching him to join a group creating a company.
In Florida, all you need is to put $15 Million Dollars in the bank to start up a company. Then that company contracts with the secondary market for reinsurance. Obviously he said no to the other senator and made it clear that he believes that it is a conflict of interest. Just another example of what our lawmakers are doing to help themselves, not their constituents.
The senator also commented on the Vacation Rental and the Home Business Laws which were passed last year. He told us the business bill was created by a northern member whose wife ran a baking business at their home. She was getting fined by the city for receiving tractor trailer deliveries of flour to her home during the evening and early morning hours.
There are rules that we can implement and have to offset the adverse effects of this new law. But for now, if I want to open a commercial kitchen in half of my home and have people pick up food or deliver food it can be done. This goes for any business that could have environmental impacts.
The Vacation Rental Bill was also lobbied by real estate owners wanting to make more money from their properties without Local Government interference. Some areas like the Florida Keys already had regulations but areas like Hallandale Beach had to create some controls. We all have been prevented from banning them. There is a glitch bill already filed reconfirming condominiums have the authority to ban Vacation Rentals as long as their bylaws address Rental Regulations. We did not discuss it at length, but it is more than likely it will help stave off litigation from unit owners challenging the bylaws.
As I shared earlier, committee week is just starting. Senator Pizzo has the ability to file as many bills as he would like since he is State Senate Minority Leader. He did not specifically cover what bills he had filed. At the end of the meeting, he requested to hold another meeting at a future date. The meeting was recorded, and our Staff is working on closed captioning so the recording can be placed online.
As always, please feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns and ideas to make our City a better place! I am available at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or at: email@example.com. On my Office number at: (954) 457-1318. Or on my Cell/Text at: (954) 632-5700. You can always visit my Facebook and follow me at Mayor Joy Cooper.