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Community Associations Institute Considering Reforms Following Surfside Collapse

The Community Associations Institute, the leading organization representing the interests of condominium associations and HOAs, is considering several policy reform recommendations on matters such as building inspections as well as reserve studies and funding in the wake of the devastating tragedy of the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside, Fla.

According to a recent post in its Ungated blog at blog.caionline.org, the organization’s Government and Public Affairs Committee convened a special meeting recently to hear the recommendations from three task forces on new public policy reforms as well as best practices and guidance for local, state and federal legislators.

CAI-logoThe three task forces focused on building inspections and maintenance; reserve study and funding plans; and insurance and risk management. They have recommended that the committee focus on reforms such as having developers provide a preventive maintenance schedule for all components that are the responsibility of the community association, not just the components included in the reserve study. They also recommended baseline inspections and regular inspections based on specific intervals, the protocols for which can be found in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Guideline for Structural Condition Assessment of Existing Buildings, and disclosures of the findings to homeowners, residents and local governments.

The task forces also recommended that the committee consider whether state laws should mandate regular reserve studies for all community associations, reserve funding, and the disclosures of reserve studies as well as current and projected funding during annual budgeting. They also suggested the consideration of authorizing association boards of directors to approve special assessments or the borrowing of funds without votes of the entire unit-owner memberships for emergency repairs and remediations.

Now that the CAI’s Board of Trustees and its Government and Public Affairs Committee, in addition to members of state legislative action committees, have been presented with the task forces’ public policy reform recommendations, the committee members and others in the organization are being invited to indicate their support or opposition. The Government and Public Affairs Committee will reconvene in the coming weeks to vote on the recommendations and present its final recommendations to the CAI Board of Trustees for consideration and vote.

Our firm’s other South Florida community association attorneys and I will be weighing in on CAI’s reform recommendations, and we have been honored to play a role in discussions with state and local lawmakers and policymakers over the reforms that should be considered.

In addition to CAI’s forthcoming recommendations, other institutions and governmental bodies are also analyzing options and suggestions in the wake of the tower’s collapse. For instance, the Florida Bar’s new Condominium Law and Policy on Life Safety Task Force is reviewing many of the laws that impact condominium associations, and it is taking testimony and recommendations from various professionals and other parties in its efforts to develop and recommend legislative and regulatory changes aimed at preventing a similar collapse.

With certainty, significant changes and regulatory reforms are soon to come following the horrific tragedy of the disaster in Surfside. The structural integrity of buildings requires responsible and effective regulation, and my colleagues and I are honored to assist condominium association managers and directors take the steps recommended to protect the safety of the millions of Florida residents who make their homes in condominium communities.

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