Courtesy of the Sun Sentinel
Posted May 11, 2006
By the end of next year, your high-rise
condo may be required to install a generator that can power at least one
elevator for five days after a hurricane. But it may have until 2025 to
install fire sprinklers in enclosed hallways and lobbies.
For residents in communities run by mandatory homeowner associations,
meetings of committees that spend your money or rule on your requests
can no longer be secret. Also, you may be able to force your neighbors
to vote on establishing a reserve fund to pay for cleanups after the
The annual 60-day session of the Legislature ended on Friday with bills
approved by both houses going to Gov. Jeb Bush to sign or veto.
"It was a productive session," said Donna Berger, executive
director of the Community Association Leadership Lobby, or CALL. "I
would like to have seen more in terms of insurance relief, but I'm glad
the bills we were concerned about were defeated."
Her group includes condo and homeowner association boards that are
clients of the Fort Lauderdale-based Becker & Poliakoff law firm.
However, for those who wanted strong measures to protect owners from
abusive boards, the session was pretty much a failure. Legislators
barely considered some of their proposals, such as limiting terms of
directors and giving owners the right to speak about issues on agendas
of board meetings.
"This year the Legislature just ignored the problems," said
Jan Bergemann of Deland, president of Cyber Citizens for Justice, which
in the previous two sessions successfully pushed for major changes in
condo and homeowner laws.
Wayne T. Moses, who owns a home in the 56-home Villas Del Mar in Boca
Raton, a homeowner association community, agreed.
"They'll wait for something drastic to happen before they do
anything," he said. "People are stressed out because of the
dictators. It's not pleasant to live like this, and the Legislature is
doing nothing in favor of us, the homeowners who buy homes and pay
But Arnold Frankel, a director and former president of a 33-unit condo
building in Lauderhill East, was glad the Legislature didn't impose term
"Some buildings might have to go to their attorneys to run their
buildings because no one wants the job," he said. "I'm sure
there are some condos where there should be term limits, but there are
some where it's the other way around. Our last president did a fantastic
job, but his wife finally told him point blank that it was her or the
building. So he gave up the presidency and we all lost out."
Berger said she was concerned about the measure requiring high-rises to
have at least one generator-powered elevator by the end of next year.
"We're not talking about multi-national corporations -- we're
talking about condominiums," she said of the expense.
She said she was pleased that condos were given 11 more years to install
fire sprinklers (the original deadline was 2014) because many
associations are stretched thin with recent hurricane expenses.
Bergemann, however, was upset.
"How many people have to die before we finally install them?"
he asked. "The delay unnecessarily endangers the elderly, the
disabled and the firefighters, who have a hard enough job anyway in
Posted May 11 2006, 10:16 AM EDT
The following measures are among
those approved by the Legislature during the annual session that
ended last week. They now go to Gov. Jeb Bush to consider. Text
of the bills can be found at www.myfloridahouse.gov.
Keep track of Bush's decisions at www.flgov.com/2006.
- FIRE SPRINKLERS:
Condos that are at least 75 feet high, about seven stories,
have until 2025 rather than 2014, which is currently
required by law, to install fire sprinklers in all common
areas, including enclosed hallways, lobbies and stairwells.
Condo buildings at least 75 feet high, about seven stories,
must have at least one public elevator capable of operating
on alternate power for a particular number of hours a day
for at least five days following a disaster. The alternate
power also must be connected to the building's fire alarm
and emergency lights in the lobby and hallways. Deadline for
complying is Dec. 31, 2007. Associations must adopt
emergency operation plans for evacuation, health, safety and
welfare of residents. HB 7121.