officials decide condos must have generators
least 1 elevator required to have power in disasters
Article Courtesy of The
By Joe Kollin
Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau
Saturday, July 1, 2006
condos must install sprinklers in hallways and lobbies by 2014, and
associations must provide a generator for at least one elevator in each
building by 2007 so elderly and infirm residents won't again get trapped
on upper floors.
Mandatory homeowner associations, meanwhile, can continue operating
without a reserve fund to pay emergency cleanup and other expenses. The
lack of reserves last year forced many associations to impose huge
special assessments on owners.
the past several weeks, Gov. Jeb Bush has signed some condo and
homeowner association bills passed during the legislative session that
ended in May. But he vetoed others, including some pushed by a
well-heeled lobbying group representing board members.
"The vetoes were caused by a united effort by individual owners who
sent huge amounts of e-mails to the governor," said Jan Bergemann,
of DeLand, president of the grass-roots Cyber Citizens for Justice.
Donna Berger, executive director of the Community Association Leadership
Lobby, which is made up of thousands of boards that retain the Becker
& Poliakoff law firm, blamed Bush's staff for the vetoes.
"Apparently a mix-up in the staff analysis resulted in the
gubernatorial veto," she said.
Bush signed new laws that require high-rise condos to have at least one
public elevator capable of operating on a generator for at least five
days after a disaster. The deadline for complying is Dec. 31, 2007. A
second bill reduces from 15 years to 10 years the length of time a condo
owner or association can file suit against the builder for construction
Bush vetoed one bill -- HB 391 -- that would have brought major changes
to associations. He said he agreed with some provisions but had
"serious concerns" with other parts, so he vetoed it all.
He agreed with a provision that would have made it easier for homeowner
associations to maintain reserves, but he disagreed with extending from
2014 to 2025 the date that condos must put in sprinklers. He called that
an "unacceptable safety risk."
He also disagreed with a provision that would have forced owners of
houses in homeowner associations to go to court to resolve disputes
instead of continuing to mediate. Mediation, generally done without
attorneys, is considered quicker and less costly.
Another bill Bush vetoed -- SB 1556 -- would have made it easier to
terminate a condo association, sell the property and split the proceeds
after a natural disaster. The changes were designed to prevent having to
operate a damaged building when it would be an economic waste. Existing
law requires 100 percent of owners to agree to the termination; the bill
lowered that to 80 percent.
Bush said the bill "goes too far" and "could deprive
condominium unit owners of their rights to remain in their units without
adequate procedural safeguards."
In a surprise move, in one of his veto messages Bush suggested the state
protect owners in mandatory homeowner association communities at a level
equal to condo owners. Creating parity, he conceded, could be
complicated because the Legislature two decades ago decided it wanted
homeowner associations to be free of the stringent regulations it placed
State condo law is 93 pages, compared with 30 pages for the homeowner
Bush also said the state should consider combining laws for all
"common interest communities," which include homeowner
associations, condos, co-ops and timeshares. Now, a different state law
with different requirements regulates each. He ordered the state
Department of Business & Professional Regulation to recommend by
Oct. 1 whether they should be combined.