A recent new law in Florida may have condo associations scrambling to change how they address property maintenance issues. This will have a trickle down effect on condo owners and their regular association dues. Many condo owners will echo the question raised by insurance experts: “Is my condo facility safe?”
Is Your Condo Facility Safe?
Condo associations serve important functions for their individual owners. Families and individuals that purchase a condominium do so for various reasons. Among them are freedom from extraneous property maintenance chores like mowing, landscaping, parking lot maintenance, and overall building upkeep.
The inside of the individual condo is the owner’s responsibility but the exterior and overall upkeep of the property is the responsibility of the condo association. Each condo owner pays regular dues to be free from those general maintenance responsibilities. But what happens when the association is not addressing maintenance issues or putting enough money away to address problems?
A telling article in the Tampa Bay Times revealed that, “Florida has more than 1.5 million residential condos, and of those, nearly 600,000 are at least 40 years old. Some 2 million people live in condos 30 years or older. Nearly 142,000 condominium units in the state are 20 to 30 years old. The numbers reflect how many condos are potentially waiting for age-related repairs.”
New Law Requires Better Planning, Inspections, and Repairs on Condos
The Florida state legislature moved to enact new legislation to tighten regulations regarding inspection reform and maintenance funding mechanisms for condo facilities after the horrific condo collapse in Surfside on June 24, 2021. As of May 27, 2022, these laws were passed and will quickly require condo associations to take swift action.
The new legislation requires professional structural inspections of multifamily residential buildings three stories tall or greater. These buildings must be inspected for structural safety after they reach 30 years old, and every 10 years thereafter. Buildings within three miles of the coastline must be inspected after 25 years, due to the corrosive nature of salt-laden air and seawater.
The new laws also require condo associations to examine their financial reserves periodically in order to plan ahead for making necessary repairs to maintain structure safety. Heightened disclosure and record-sharing guidelines are also included that allow greater transparency between owners, associations, potential buyers, and other involved entities. This is hoped to foster a new level of accountability, better safety, and more faith in the Florida real estate market.
What is a Reserve Study?
Leo Cannyn is a Project Manager for Beryl Project Engineering and he is quoted in an August 10, 2022, article by WTSP-TV Channel 10 in Tampa Bay about the need for condo associations to have reserve studies as soon as possible.
A reserve study is “a budgetary planning tool that is both a physical analysis of your property and a financial analysis of your funding strategy.” This important report by a qualified structural engineer can help condo associations understand their current financial picture and set aside money for routine maintenance to protect condo owners.
Leo is quoted in the above article about the benefits of a reserve study, saying, “They’ll have a budget, they’ll know when their roofs need to be replaced. They’ll know when their buildings need to be painted. It will lower the threat of a special assessment because they’ll already have a budget and be saving money for it. On the flip side of that, because they haven’t been doing this, dues are going to go up.”
Get Help from a Seasoned Professional of Structural Design in Tampa
Florida companies with the qualifications to perform a reserve study and the skills to provide a required milestone inspection are few. Beryl Project Engineering offers both of these services from seasoned and licensed structural engineers with many years of experience.
Condo associations that delay moving on this issue could face fines under the new Florida law. Contact Beryl Project Engineering today to schedule a reserve study and/or structural inspection of your condominium complex as soon as possible.