Miami Herald Column: “After Surfside Condo Collapse, Group Recommends Key Condo-Safety Measures, Financial Reforms”

Siegfried Rivera
July 30, 2023

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The firm’s latest Miami Herald “Real Estate Counselor” column was authored by shareholder Laura Manning-Hudson and appears in today’s edition of the newspaper.  The article, which is titled “After Surfside Condo Collapse, Group Recommends Key Condo-Safety Measures, Financial Reforms,” focuses on some recent major changes to the Community Associations Institute’s recommended condo-safety policies and reforms.  Her article reads:

. . . CAI, which is the leading organization representing the interests of community associations, revealed that it now recommends statutorily mandating reserve studies and funding for all community associations.

For nearly 40 years, the organization’s recommended public policy called for leaving reserves funding and studies up to the individual associations, rather than mandates in state law. That began to change after Surfside when it convened three specialized task forces to explore changes to laws and best practices that could help to prevent a similar disaster.

The task forces recommended that CAI review and update its reserve studies and funding public policies, which were initially established in 1983 and last updated in 2012. The organization has now acted on that suggestion, and the changes go well beyond the call for new state mandates.

The new policy also now recommends additional inspection requirements by developers during the development process and prior to transition to homeowners, as well as periodic inspections post-transition. It also further addresses structural integrity through statutorily mandated inspections based on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ protocols starting when buildings become 10 years old, then again at 20 years, and every five years thereafter.

The new public policy recommendations also include helpful details and suggestions to enable communities to transition to these new requirements while avoiding financial strains on owners and associations.

CAI develops its public policies to guide its volunteer advocates and staff in their advocacy efforts. Any current members can propose a public policy for consideration, and all public policies are vetted by CAI chapters, state legislative action committees, member representation groups, the College of Community Association Lawyers, and the CAI Board of Trustees.

The organization’s advocacy efforts have helped to steer the legislative condominium-safety reforms in Florida, which is leading the charge with the new mandates for inspections and reserves it has implemented.

During this year’s legislative session, the state’s lawmakers made changes to last year’s reforms. Milestone inspections were to be required for buildings that have been occupied for 30 years (25 years if within three miles of a coastline), with additional inspections required every 10 years thereafter. Now, buildings within three miles of the coastline can be inspected after they have been occupied for 30 years, but local officials may require inspections after 25 years of occupancy depending on “local circumstances, including environmental conditions such as proximity to salt water.”

Last year’s reforms also called for condos that are three stories or higher to conduct structural integrity reserve studies for repairs to features such as roofs, load-bearing walls and fire-protection systems. The new law extends the deadline for the completion of these studies to Jan. 1, 2025 and clarifies the components that must be included in the structural integrity reserve study. It also clarifies that for a budget adopted on or after Dec. 31, 2024, associations will not be able to vote to waive reserves for components included in the structural integrity reserve study. . .

Laura concludes her article by noting that CAI has now convened a building maintenance and structural integrity policy task force, which is reviewing new data on aging building infrastructure. The task force is likely to develop new policy recommendations related to façade maintenance, inspections, and safety in the fall of 2023.  She encourages readers to visit for additional information on all of the organization’s safety and structural integrity public policies and recommendations.

Our firm salutes Laura for sharing her insights into CAI’s condo-safety and financing recommendations with the readers of the Miami HeraldClick here to read the complete article in the newspaper’s website.