Florida Bar task force gives more authority to condominium associations

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The collapse of a condominium building in Surfside in June sparked new attention to how condominium associations propel or delay maintenance.

Miami Herald

To repair or not to repair. That’s the question too many Florida condominium residents and board members are asking. Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, they are caught in an existential crisis.

On the one hand, they bemoan the financial pain, dust, noise and massive inconvenience of a large renovation project. On the flip side, they know the risks of not fixing what’s broken – or of leaking or rusting inside the concrete – could be far worse.

The angst over the costs of repair can be unbearable for the estimated 3 million Floridians who live in condominium communities, where vocal factions are forming on all sides of the ‘fix / not fix’ issue. In the resulting brawl, the unit owners sue the board members and the board members sue the unit owners. This is local politics in all its glory.

And, as we now know, the results can be disastrous, which is why help can finally arrive.

The Florida Bar Association’s Safe People’s Condominium Law and Policy Advisory Working Group released an full set of recommendations calling for new legislation to govern when major repair work needs to be done and how condominium communities will pay for it. The recommendations are currently making their way into the chambers of Tallahassee.

If passed by the state legislature, the new rules will remove much of an individual condominium corporation’s ability to “kick the streets” when it comes to maintaining life. structural integrity of a building and life safety features.

The task force’s proposals would require members of the association’s board of directors to complete maintenance, repair and replacement of structural and life-safety systems in a “timely” manner, largely without the need for assistance. ‘a vote of unit owners. In addition, the changes are intended to give a condominium board the power to pass special assessments or borrow money on behalf of the association to fund the necessary maintenance, also without a vote of the owners of the property. unity.

The working group recommends more frequent inspections, carried out in a uniform format and prescribed by qualified engineers and architects. For the sake of transparency, these inspection reports should be made available to all unit owners via the association’s website.

Perhaps more importantly, the task force recommends that associations be required to conduct studies of future maintenance costs and hold financial reserves or establish borrowing capacity equal to at least 50% of expected repair and replacement costs.

Recognizing that these financial requirements could place a significant burden on owners of units with fixed incomes or limited financial resources, the task force also recommends creating special and low-cost funding programs for those who qualify.

It all makes sense. Critics, however, fear the new regulations will push up the cost of condominium living, straining Florida retirees and others on fixed incomes.

But will he do it? Deferred maintenance usually ends up costing more in the long run, as minor repairs turn into full replacements. In a condominium, that means today’s low monthly maintenance fees translate into tomorrow’s special assessments, which can often run into the tens of thousands of dollars per unit, or even more.

Deferred maintenance also decreases the value of a resident’s condominium property. A group of realtors recently told the Miami Herald that condominium buyers wouldn’t even consider an older building that hasn’t passed – or is undergoing repairs related to – its 40-year recertification.

Therefore, good maintenance is a fiscally wise choice. This saves money in the long run. It preserves the values ​​of the properties. And that eliminates the risk. Encourage the Florida legislature to do the right thing by e-mailing your representative.

If we’re lucky, “to fix or not to fix” will no longer be the existential question tearing condominium communities apart.

Adam Snitzer is CFO of DSS Condo, LLC., Which serves communities of condominiums and owners.

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