Florida Legislature Approves $30M for Condominium Storm-Proofing Grants

Siegfried Rivera
April 18, 2024

storm proofing

The firm’s latest Miami Herald “Real Estate Counselor” column was authored by Laura Manning-Hudson, the managing partner of the firm’s West Palm Beach office.  The article, which is titled “Florida Legislature Approves $30M for Condominium Storm-Proofing Grants,” focuses on the passage of a new pilot program to help condominium associations pay for storm-hardening enhancements that reduce insurance premiums. House Bill 1029 is still awaiting action by the Governor. Laura’s article reads:

. . . The state’s lawmakers passed the bill enacting the new My Safe Florida Condominium Pilot Program with unanimous votes in both chambers, and it is now awaiting its expected approval by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The program, which is an extension of the My Safe Florida Home program that offers grants for improvements to single-family homes, will assist condominium associations with the costs of storm-proofing property improvements.

For associations that receive a grant, which are capped at a maximum of $175,000, the state would provide $2 for every $1 spent by the community on eligible improvements. The grant would cover up to half the cost of roof-related projects, and $1,500 per unit for doors and windows.

The law calls for two approvals and votes. In order to apply for a grant and the qualifying mitigation inspection for a condominium property, associations must approve the application via either a majority vote of their board of directors or a majority of all their unit-owner members. Subsequently, in order to apply for a grant that improves one or more units, the law again requires approval either by a majority of the board or a majority vote of all of the unit-owner members, plus it requires an additional unanimous vote of approval by all unit owners in buildings receiving a grant for improvements.

This unanimous vote of approval by all owners may be problematic for large buildings and communities. Attaining unanimous approval from sizable numbers of owners for anything is extremely difficult to achieve. With only $30 million allocated for the program’s first year, these funds are likely to go very quickly to the associations that are able to mobilize as expeditiously as possible to complete the application process and secure the necessary approval from every unit owner.

As such, associations and the professionals who help guide them would be well advised to begin working in advance of the law going into effect on July 1 upon its expected gubernatorial approval. The vote of the entire ownership may require a special vote and meeting of all the owners, and associations should use every communications tool at their disposal to convey the nature of the program and its obvious financial benefits to the owners.

Prior to the vote, the new law calls for associations to provide all the owners with a disclosure form on the program created by the Florida Department of Financial Services that is signed by the board president and treasurer. They should contact FDFS to ensure they are among the first to obtain this form as well as additional information on the application and approval process upon their availability, but it would be prudent to begin their owner outreach to secure the necessary approval in advance. However, in accordance with the new law, no actual voting is to take place until after the distribution of the FDFS form.

For owners who never vote on any association matters, special efforts to reach them and secure their approval may need to be implemented. Remember, these efforts could mean thousands of dollars for the association to conduct vital storm-hardening property improvements that would reduce insurance premiums, so the outreach activities will be time well spent for its volunteers and professionals. Any potential questions or doubts in the minds of some owners should be addressed directly with them by the directors, or by other association volunteers or professionals as appropriate. Also, the use of votes by proxy may prove to be necessary in order to secure the votes of approval from some member owners, so associations may need to implement the same proxy voting procedures they use for other membership votes once the actual voting is under way. . .

Laura concludes her article by noting that if enacted, this grant from the state of Florida presents a major boon for condominium associations facing rising insurance costs and needing storm-proofing enhancements to their roofs, doors and windows. By applying for the funds and working to secure the necessary support of the unit owners, boards of directors will be able to demonstrate they are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to help owners afford and abate increases stemming from hardening improvements and rising insurance rates.

Our firm salutes Laura for sharing her insights into this important new funding for Florida condominium associations with the readers of the Miami Herald.