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A task force created to review Florida’s condominium law after a June building collapse in the Miami area that left 98 people dead calls for legislative changes that include stricter requirements for building associations. condominiums maintain cash reserves, according to a report reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

The task force, organized by the Florida Bar, delivered the report to Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida House and Senate leaders on Tuesday, said Bill Sklar, head of the group. State lawmakers, who are due to begin their legislative session in January, have previously said they plan to consider many proposals.

A spokeswoman for Florida House President Chris Sprowls said his office had received the report but had not yet reviewed it. “The President welcomes the contribution of the Bar”, she declared.

A spokeswoman for Mr DeSantis said his office could not comment until he had a chance to study the report.

In the years leading up to the collapse of the Champlain South Towers, board members and unit owners argued over the required maintenance and the escalating price, which reached $ 16 million. At the time of the collapse, the condominium board was planning major repairs.

Memorials have sprung up at the former site of Champlain Towers South, the condominium in Surfside, Florida, which collapsed in June, killing 98 people


Photo:

Chandan Khanna / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

The June 24 collapse is the subject of several federal and local investigations, including one by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is part of the Department of Commerce, and another by Allyn Kilsheimer, a structural engineer. renowned who examined the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.

The task force report includes many recommendations. He calls for requiring the timely maintenance and repair of condominium buildings and for allowing boards of directors to impose financial assessments on owners or borrow money to pay for such work. It recommends making mandatory reports, updated every five years, by an engineer or an architect on the common elements of a building, including their useful life and replacement costs.

Among the provisions that may prove to be more controversial is the one that tightens cash reserve requirements, said Mr Sklar, a real estate lawyer and chair of the task force. Florida law allows condominium boards to waive the requirement to collect money from residents for possible future repairs. Mr Sklar said the task force wanted to make it much more difficult to bypass the requirement.

The group recommends requiring the approval of at least 75% of the voting rights of a building, rather than a majority under current law, to waive this requirement, and that condominium associations not be not authorized to maintain minimum reserves below 50% of the legally required amounts.

The task force met 19 times starting in July and sought advice from engineers, insurance industry experts, real estate agents and a group representing boards of condominium associations, among others. The goal was to determine if any legal or regulatory changes could minimize the likelihood of another tragedy such as the collapse of the Champlain South Towers.

More than 912,000 condo units in Florida are at least 30 years old, according to Department of Business and Professional Regulation data cited by the task force.

Danielle Blake, head of public policy for the Miami Association of Realtors, said her group supported more stringent reserve requirements. The group also supports changing state law to require boards of directors to share inspection reports with condo owners and potential buyers, she said.

“We are pushing for it because people are asking for it,” she said.

Write to Rachael Levy at [email protected] and Arian Campo-Flores at [email protected]

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Appeared in the print edition of October 13, 2021 under the title “Group Seeks Stricter Florida Condo Law”.

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