Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published June 7, 2022
Yes, we really needed a “CONDO SAFETY BILL” – but is the one passed by the Florida Legislature really THE SOLUTION to all the problem? Yes, the bill creates lots of building safety provisions, but it sure will be very expensive for the families living in Florida’s condo hi-rises.
The 88-page bill starts with long explanations of building codes, phases of “milestone inspections” and “substantial structural deterioration” and when these inspections have to take place. The language is pretty complicated and often difficult to understand. We will definitely see lots of different interpretations.
Caused by all the provisions contained in this bill there will be a lot of records added to the public record section of FS 718 – the Condo Act. From reserve studies, to inspection records, to financial records and reserves, plus the requirement of disclosures to potential buyers, long explanations are contained in this bill.
But while the enforcement of the building inspections and structural problems is left to the local building department, the enforcement of all the other issues contained in the bill is again left to the Division of , Timeshares, and Mobile Homes, an agency that permanently fails to enforce the laws as required by already existing statutes, or permanently invents excuses why they don’t have “jurisdiction”.
Finally the legislature added mandatory reserve funding to the statutes, something that should have been done – and was asked for – more than twenty years ago. But it actually only starts on Dec. 31, 2024.
Here is one big issue: The bill talks at length about misuse of reserve funds for other purposes than intended and threatens board members saying that such abuse is considered a “breach of fiduciary duty”, but we all know that nothing really happens. Another law without teeth!
There are major issues that were willfully left out in this bill:
Considering the fact that scams and embezzlements run rampant in our associations such “teeth” were definitely needed. Over the years many condo owners were against the creation of reserve funds because the money in these funds had a tendency to “disappear” and owners were forced to pay again by special assessments.
2.) The language of the bill is very difficult to understand – some called it “convoluted” – and it looks like there will be lots different interpretations as to the meaning of these new laws. The bill, expecting board members to deal with all these new provisions, fails to require board members to learn about all the new requirements they are supposed to follow. A bill – SB 394 – would have required board members to attend mandatory seminars in order to learn about all these safety measures. That means that we have board members that could be punished for “breach of fiduciary duties” without knowing what their fiduciary duties really are.
Yes, the bill creates many necessary safety measures, but at WHAT PRICE?
All the new requirements will seriously increase the cost of living in condo hi-rises.
And you can be sure about one thing: Florida’s foreclosure attorneys are already licking their chops, because Florida’s owners of units in hi-rises are getting hit with four whammies:
And we all know what folks pay for first: Food and Medications! And that’s why this bill will cause a lot of foreclosures. Especially the elderly, many of them living on social security, will be the first to default on payments.
With other words: This bill comes with a lot of safety measures, but as well with lots of families losing their homes.
Florida’s legislature had at the end of the regular session a bill ready, a bill that would have slowly increased the cost of living in Florida’s hi-rises, with good safety measures in place.
Until the future speaker of the House – D. Perez – blocked this bill from going through. Obviously Perez is another attorney who thinks he knows it all. I think the D in his name stands for Diva, because that’s how he acts. He wrote his own laudation in the Miami Herald, but refuses to discuss the bill in the open – like in talk shows – and even makes sure that invited guests are uninvited from such talk shows if he feels that they will criticize him or his bill. Heaven help Floridians if such a guy takes power as the Speaker of the House.
Families losing their homes in these hi-rises because they will be unable to pay the huge maintenance bills should send Perez personally thank-you letters, because his actions have caused these sudden increases in cost.
Oh, by the way: I got a good laugh when reading in the media reports that the Community Association Institute is supporting this bill. Normally they have been fighting against safety measures in all these years – like the Sprinkler System Bill – but now that these safety measures come with big increases in the earnings of their members they suddenly applaud such measures.
EASY LIVING IN CONDOMINIUMS? NO MORE!