Condominium safety reforms were very much in the spotlight during this year’s regular session following the unforgettable tragedy in Surfside, Florida. Though legislators could not agree on legislation pertaining to safety reforms during the regular session, they successfully did so during a special session. In a surprising move, Senate Bill 4-D unanimously passed in both the House and Senate and was recently signed into law by the Governor. The following are the key takeaways from the 88-page bill:
The “Milestone Inspection”
- Florida has now imposed a state-wide structural inspection program for condominium and cooperative associations that are three (3) stories or more in height defined as a “milestone inspection.”
- Community association managers or management companies contractually hired by a condominium association that is subject to this inspection must comply with this section as directed by the board.
- Milestone inspections must be performed by December 31 of the year in which the building reaches 30 years in age, based on the issue date of the building’s certificate of occupancy, and every 10 years thereafter. Buildings located within 3 miles of the coastline must perform a milestone inspection by December 31 of the year in which they reach 25 years in age, and every 10 years thereafter. Buildings with a certificate of occupancy that was issued on or before July 1, 1992 must have the initial milestone inspection performed before December 31, 2024.
- Condominium and cooperative associations are responsible for the scheduling and costs associated with the milestone inspection.
- Milestone inspection means a structural inspection of a building’s load-bearing walls and primary structural members/systems.
- Milestone inspections must be performed by a Florida licensed engineer/architect who must attest to the life safety and adequacy of structural components of the building. To the extent that it’s reasonably possible, the inspection must determine the general structural condition of the building as it affects the safety of building, such as necessary maintenance, repairs and replacements of structural components.
- “Substantial structural deterioration” is described as substantial structural distress that negatively affects the building’s general structural condition and integrity.
Milestone inspections will consist of two phases:
- Phase one — Visual examination of habitable/nonhabitable areas of building. If there are no signs of structural deterioration found, phase two is not required.
- Phase two — If substantial deterioration is found during phase one, phase two may involve destructive or nondestructive testing at the inspector’s discretion. This additional inspection may be as extensive or limited as necessary to fully assess areas of distress.
- Architect/engineer who performed inspections must submit a sealed copy of the inspection report and findings to both the association and appropriate local building official
- Local enforcement agencies will provide buildings required to comply with this law notice of required inspection by certified mail.
- Upon receiving notice, condominium/cooperative associations will have 180 days to complete phase one of the inspection.