The 98 fatalities in the Surfside condo disaster has the Legislature under pressure to update condo regs, some of which haven’t changed in decades.
Passing an update to the state’s condominium rules is coming down to the wire as the end of Session draws near.
Last summer, a deadly condo tragedy revealed some cracks in the state rules regulating condominiums. Now, as the minutes tick down on this Session, the House has to take up the Senate’s version of updated regulations approved Thursday.
The Legislature is under pressure to make some changes to the condo regulations — some aspects haven’t changed in decades — in the wake of the condominium disaster at Surfside that left 98 people dead in the predawn hours of June 24.
Thursday, the Senate adopted new regulations that call for regular inspections of multifamily buildings three stories or taller. Condo buildings within three miles of the coast would be inspected when they reach 25 years of age; others, at 30 years, if the legislation passes. The imploded condo had been 40 years old at the time.
“This bill seeks to address what went so tragically wrong at Surfside,” said Sen. Jennifer Bradley, who introduced the legislation (SB 1702). “We resolve that it will never happen again.”
Her version, however, was substituted with the updated regulations (HB 7069) that the House approved on Feb. 24. The Senate adopted it with an amendment, so House will again take up the bill. However, the Senate amendment takes out the administrative updates that would have more closely regulated the amount of money a condo must keep in reserve for repairs.
“Sometimes 60 days is not enough to address the issues, and apparently sweeping condo regulation reform is one of them,” Bradley said, referring to the length of this year’s Session.
“I look forward to coming back next Session and addressing a lot of those issues that I think are meaningful for our condos,” she added.
Condo inspections were required in legislation passed in 2008 but quickly repealed in 2010.
Estimates show some 2 million full-time and part-time Floridians live in more than 900,000 condo buildings aged 30 years or older.
Thursday’s step forward received praise.
“The tragic collapse at Surfside is proof that Florida needed to update and strengthen its building safety regulations, and the Florida Legislature has taken great strides to make this happen,” Allen Douglas, executive director of Florida Engineering Society and American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida said according to a news release. “We look forward to final passage of this important legislation.”
Bradley thanked those assembled for their support.
“I do believe this will set a new course for Florida’s condos,” Bradley said.
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