June 9, 2022

With The Passage of The Building Safety Reform Bill, Florida Lawmakers Require Stricter Inspections and Financial Commitments

By: Gary L. Brown

Nearly a year after the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside collapsed, Florida legislators raced to pass a bill that would result in stricter condominium inspection and financial obligations.  

The Condo Reform Bill (S.B. 4D) [1], which mandates statewide building inspections and requires condominium associations to maintain reserves, was passed by the Senate in a 38-0 vote and the House of Representatives by a 110-0 vote. The Bill was approved by the governor on 26th May 2022. 

The Florida Building Code does not allow repairs, replacement, or recovery of more than 25 percent of the total roof area unless the entire existing roofing system is brought up to current Code requirements. 

The change initiated by the bill is to include a 25 percent or more bracket on roofing systems that are being repaired, replaced, or recovered. Only that portion of the system that is undergoing such work needs to be constructed according to the Florida Building Code that exists now.

The difference is that only the roofing that is undergoing work has to be in accordance with the existing Code and not the entire roofing system. This would imply more work on the horizon for Florida contractors as it relaxes the code-related requirements for construction work so that structures in dire need of repair be refurbished to reduce the risk that residents face, without the need to bring the entire system up to current code standards. 

The bill also requires safety inspections for condominium and cooperative association buildings, provides information access to unit owners, and revises the reserve requirements for the ongoing maintenance and repair of buildings. 

In particular, regarding building safety inspections, the condominium and cooperative associations are required to:  

  • Have a “milestone inspection” of the structural integrity of the buildings by an architect or engineer when the building is 30 years old and every 10 years afterward. If the building is situated three miles within the coastline, then the requirement caps at 25 years and every 10 years afterward. This is required to be conducted in two phases. [2] 
  • Conduct the milestone inspection before December 31, 2024, if the building’s certificate of occupancy was issued on or before July 1, 1992.  
  • Share the inspection report results to local building officials and associations by adhering to the specified minimum contents to be included. They must also report to the Florida Division of Condominiums, Timeshare, and Mobile Homes (division) before January 1, 2023, regarding the number of three stories or higher buildings and the number of units in them. 

Moreover, in the funding of reserves for continuous maintenance and repair, the condominium and cooperative buildings must:  

  •  Complete a “structural integrity reserve study” (visually inspecting the common elements to study the reserve required for major future repairs and replacements) by December 31, 2024. This must be done by associations that existed on or before July 1, 2022, and controlled by non-developer unit owners.  
  • Complete a structural integrity reserve study for each building in an association three or more stories in height. This needs to be done every 10 years. These studies will help in deciding the money to be reserved. Failure to complete the study shall be considered a breach of a board member’s or officer’s fiduciary duty.  

The bill also permits the inspection and replication of milestone inspection reports or other documents pertaining to structural life or safety as official records. 

Builders must also be aware that the division’s jurisdiction has been extended to include complaints about the procedural completion of milestone inspections. 

These first-of-its-kind inspection requirements will drive transparency into the process, with the goal of ultimately preventing tragedies like Champlain Towers South and saving lives. 

[1] Senate Bill 4D (2022D) – The Florida Senate. (2022, May 26). Senate Bill 4D (2022D) – The Florida Senate; www.flsenate.gov. https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2022D/4 

[2] The two phases are: A phase one milestone inspection must begin within 180 days of an association receiving written notification from the local enforcement agency. 

A phase two milestone examination is required if a phase one inspection reveals “substantial structural deterioration.” 

For more information on the bill or any questions you may have about construction related topics, please contact Gary Brown.

Gary Brown is a Partner and the Head of the firm’s Construction Practice Group at Kelley Kronenberg. Gary focuses his practice on construction defect litigation and complex commercial litigation.

Contact Gary Brown at:
Phone: 844-632-4357
Email: gbrown@kklaw.com


DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as a courtesy and is intended for the general information of the matters discussed above and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Neither Kelley Kronenberg, nor its individual attorneys or staff, are responsible for errors, omissions and/or typographical errors – always seek competent legal counsel.