Attention Condo Residents: A New Regulation Will Impact Every Condominium With Three Stories or More

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

July 14, 2022

During the Special Session, our State Legislators Passed a new Regulation that will impact every Condominium with three stories or more. We know about the tragedy of Champlain Towers. As we heard more about the collapse, we understood how Boards Deferred Maintenance. Also changed Boards to stop Assessments and or watered down what truly needed to be done. While one may argue that the original construction was at fault the reality is continued maintenance of a building is essential. Items as simple as painting and waterproofing are needed to preserve a building's integrity. This is even more important with buildings that are along our Coast.

I want to make something extremely clear. As cities our Building Departments are Required to make sure that Florida Building Codes are followed. This is for everyone’s Safety. Permits are Required. Most Contractors know, understand and follow the Rules. There are some that simply do not want to File Permits or do not have the capacity too. They file with mistakes or omissions that delay the Permits. This is often blamed on the City when it is simply finger pointing.

The responsibility does not simply lay with the City or Contractors. Condominium Boards, Maintenance Staff and Residents all have a role to play in the process! Daily maintenance and observation of areas of concern are vital. Residents must understand that monthly maintenance does not cover major items.

Reserves are what is put aside to make sure roofs, building envelopes and systems can be fixed or replaced. Once these Reserves are Waived it simply means that what should be done is kicked down the road. The result is Deferred Maintenance and then large lump sum Assessments. The ability to Waive Reserves has set up the type of disaster we saw play out in Surfside. Thankfully, the new Law that was passed has broad financial impacts to every building. Work must be performed.

Condominium Buildings with three or more stories are now subject to “Milestone Inspections,” meant to ensure their structural Safety. A Licensed Architect or Structural Engineer must complete this Inspection. During the Inspection, the Architect or Structural Engineer must first complete a “Phase 1” Inspection of the building, which consists of a Visual Inspection and a Qualitative Assessment of the building’s condition, documented in a Written Report.

That Report must be given to both the Associations and any Local Building Official who has Authority over the Association. Our City, thanks to the work of Commissioner Lima-Taub, has an On-Line database already setup that provides Condominium Documentation. We also have set up an inventory of buildings citywide covering 40 year and 50-year Inspections. This new Law Requires direct distribution to all unit Owners and Renters. The result must be posted in a conspicuous place on the property and on the Association’s Web-Site if it has one. In addition, it must be maintained in the Association’s Records for at least 15 years.

If any Structural Deterioration is noted during that first Inspection, then an additional “Phase 2” Inspection is Required. “Phase 2” includes any Supplemental Testing that is Required in the Initial Inspection Report.

The Inspection Requirements also include: any other item with deferred Maintenance or Replacement Expenses in excess of $10,000 which, if not performed, would negatively impact the aforementioned components.

Visual Inspection must be performed by a Licensed Architect or engineer, but other “qualified” persons can perform other portions of the Reserve Study. For example: Electrical and Plumbing.

While many buildings have or are doing their Inspection the need to save for future needs has changed. Also, buildings with Certificates of Occupancy issued prior to July 1st, 1992, the Initial Inspection is due on December 31st, 2024, and every ten years thereafter.

The Law also speeds up and changes new Building Requirements. Condominiums and Cooperatives with CO’s issued on July 1st, 1992, or after Inspections due by December 31st of the year in which the building reaches 5 years of age. For buildings within three miles of Coastline, or 30 years of age and for buildings not within three miles of Coastline every 10 years thereafter.

Upon Notification from the Enforcement Agency of a Past-Due Milestone Inspection, the Association must submit the Inspection Report within 180 days. There are also now teeth that impact every board. Willful and knowing failure to obtain Milestone Inspections Constitute a Breach of officers and directors’ fiduciary duties.

Repairs recommended pursuant to Milestone Inspection must commence within the earlier of 365 days from submission of the report. If it is deemed by the Local Authority repairs will be required sooner. Failure to perform repairs within the mandated time period requires the Local Enforcement Authority to Conduct a Review to determine if the building is Unsafe for Human Occupancy.

Next Week's Article: What Is A Reserve Study and What Must Be Included?

As always, feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns and ideas on how to make our City a great place to live, work and play! I am available by phone or text at: (954) 632-5700. E-mail me at: jcooper@cohb.org. Or visit my Facebook & Web-Site at: www.MayorJoyCooper.com.