By Dana Robin Goldman, Mayor
(July 14, 2022) – As we mark one year since the condominium tragedy in Surfside, I want to share two new laws that were passed during a special Florida legislative session in May that will enhance building and condominium safety as well as property insurance.
Senate Bill 4-D focuses on building and condominium safety as it relates to inspections, transparency, and reserves. The bill creates a two-phase milestone inspection process for condos and HOAs that are three stories or higher. Buildings must now receive inspections after 30 years and then again every 10 years. Further, condos that are within three miles of the coastline must start inspections after 25 years, and then continue every 10 years after. Before, Miami-Dade County law required all condominiums to conduct recertifications after 40 years and then every 10 years after. 4-D moves the initial inspection up for all condos in Sunny Isles Beach to be 15 years earlier. The goal is that by conducting these important inspections sooner, we will hopefully be able to catch any structural concerns and fix them before they become a life-threatening problem.
The bill also provides for greater transparency and disclosure so that inspections are included in the condo’s official records provided to buyers, renters, unit owners and building officials. In addition, for condos three stories or higher, associations must complete a structural integrity reserve study at least every 10 years after the building is built. Condo boards are also unable to waive reserves for structural elements such as roofs, load-bearing walls and electrical systems. By putting these regulations in place, unit owners, renters and buyers are able to hold condos accountable for the safety of their homes.
As the cost of living rises dramatically, Senate Bill 2-D addresses the increasing lack of access and affordability of property insurance in Florida. The bill focuses on reducing property insurance rates over time, while improving the choice and increasing transparency between homeowners and insurance companies. It includes anti-fraud and legal reforms to reduce frivolous litigation that drives up costs for insurance companies and policyholders. The bill also creates a new property insurer investigations unit to increase regulatory oversight and requires the Office of Insurance Regulation to provide enhanced monitoring whenever significant concerns are identified.
These bills are important steps that support the safety and quality of life for those who live in or own condominiums. While there is more work to do, it is comforting to know that our state is moving forward in the right direction to keep condo dwellers safe in their homes.