Roberto Blanch Provides Expert Input on Vital Matters Facing South Florida Associations

Siegfried Rivera
May 30, 2024


Journalists from major media outlets have consistently turned to our firm’s attorneys for the most timely and vital matters facing South Florida community associations. The latest examples appeared recently in the pages of the Miami Herald and The Real Deal. Both outlets featured the insights of Shareholder Roberto Blanch, one of the firm’s board-certified experts in association law by The Florida Bar, in major articles on important trends and topics impacting Florida condominiums and condo-hotels.

The first of the two articles appeared on the front page of the Miami Herald’s Wednesday, May 15, edition. The article, titled “Did Florida lawmakers clean up condo-hotel mess or create ‘dictatorships’ for developers?”, focuses on the litigation involving the Carillon condo-hotel in Miami Beach, which spurred new legislation giving hoteliers and developers greater control over the shared common areas in such properties.

One aspect of the new legislation is that by allowing hotel developers to claim all property except for the condominium units themselves through contracts known as master declarations, the lawmakers may have potentially allowed developers to exempt themselves from the state’s newly mandated structural integrity reserve study.  Commercial spaces are carved out from such mandates, so mixed-use buildings in which the hotel/developer owns everything except for the condominium units themselves may also be carved out from the study requirement.

The Herald article reads:

. . . Roberto Blanch, a condo association attorney for Siegfried Rivera in Miami, believes that declaration documents will dictate whether the reserve study is required for a condominium located in a mixed-use building.  When advising a condo association on what parts of a building for which to get the study done, he would see what exactly is defined in the documents as part of the condominium property and then cross reference that with the specific requirements for the structural integrity reserve study as defined in statute. He’d advise them to get the study done for only those components of the building.

“What if they have zero responsibility for the group of items listed in the statutes for which a structural integrity study is to be prepared? In that hypothetical, I would tell my client, ‘Look, you don’t have to do that because you are only responsible to fund reserves for those portions of the building you are obligated to maintain,’” said Blanch.

And what if in that scenario, his client, the condo association, told the hotel developer they needed to get the structural integrity reserve study?

“The hotel owner might say, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not obligated by statute to get the report,’” Blanch said. . .

Click here to read the complete article in the newspaper’s website.

The second article appeared the following Thursday, May 23, on The Real Deal South Florida real estate news website.  The article is titled “We have to live in the real world: Lawmaker, experts debate Florida’s condo crisis, looming association deadlines,” and it begins with Roberto’s big-picture perspective on the changes that are in store:

Attorney Roberto Blanch says Dec. 31, 2024 will be “a date that lives in infamy.”

It’s one of the key deadlines for condo associations to comply with new condo safety laws that could upend the market for older buildings across Florida.

The Miami-based lawyer, a shareholder at Siegfried Rivera, was among six experts who spoke last week at a condo symposium about the “perfect storm” of challenges brewing for unit owners and associations, nearly three years after the Surfside condo collapse killed 98 people.

It’s become more expensive to own a unit in an older condo building, in part because the laws require that associations fund financial reserves that previously could be waived, and require that these buildings be repaired and maintained. On top of that, insurance has doubled or tripled for some complexes in recent years. . .

The article continues with Roberto’s input on the state’s enforcement of the new mandates:

. . . On enforcement, Blanch said that before the collapse of Champlain Towers South in 2021, “some municipalities and counties were getting a bad rap.”

“I do, to their credit, believe they’ve become a lot more strict on this,” he said. “So I caution a lot of our clients to be on top of these deadlines.”

Some flexibility seems to exist, in part because of the huge demand for engineers, architects and reserve study experts to complete these studies for associations across the state. . .

Click here to read the complete article in The Real Deal.

Our firm salutes Roberto for sharing his insights with journalists from the Miami Herald and The Real Deal in search of expert input on these extremely timely and vital topics for Florida condominiums and condo-hotels.