Courtesy of Channel 6 South Florida
Published March 19, 2022
It’s been nearly nine months since the building collapse
in Surfside killed 98 people. Florida lawmakers promised they would pass
reforms to prevent something similar from happening but they couldn’t make a
A disagreement between
the House and Senate over money eliminated a bipartisan bill
from passing. Lawmakers couldn’t agree on how much money
condo associations needed to have in back up to pay for
maintenance and repairs and when they needed to have it.
Victim families can’t understand why nothing will be done.
The last few months have been heartbreaking for Martin
Langesfeld, who lost his older sister and brother-in-law in
“They just got married a few months before. They were
starting life in their new apartment,” Langesfeld said.
He heard the news over the weekend and couldn’t believe it:
lawmakers will not pass any new reforms to try and prevent
another collapse from happening.
“It just shows in the state of Florida, money is more
important than lives,” Langesfeld said.
Representative Daniel Perez (R-Distr.116): No
matter what he says, he is the legislator responsible for the
failure of the Condo Safety Bill. He says: "We will
be back next year!" I HOPE HE IS NOT!
Nine months ago, NBC 6 Investigators revealed the
Champlain Towers South had less than $1 million in reserves but had around
$15 million in needed repairs according to engineers hired by the towers.
The official cause of the collapse is still under investigation but the
towers fell right before the association rallied owners to begin
There are more than 1.5 million condo units in Florida and their owners are
very powerful in the state capital of Tallahassee. Current law allows some
condo associations to keep fees low by not having backup funds to pay for
“When we came up here we came up here with one goal, that was to pass
legislation in regards to condominium reform that was going to make a
difference,” said Miami-Dade Rep. Daniel Perez, who sponsored the Florida
House version of the bill.
Every lawmaker in the House approved of his version but it had a key
difference from the Senate’s version, which was approved by every lawmaker
Perez wanted to require condo associations to study how many repairs they
needed in a “reserve study” and require the buildings to have enough money
to pay for the repairs within three years. It could raise the cost for condo
owners by hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars a year upfront,
depending on the specific building.
Condos would then have money set aside for any major structural damage found
in the study.
The Senate took those requirements out and Perez wouldn’t accept the changed
“That was not a negotiable piece for us. We were never going to negotiate
the waiving of reserves because that is part of the problem that caused the
incident at Surfside,” said Perez.
The sponsor of the Senate’s version, North Florida Sen. Jennifer Bradley,
told NBC 6 “the Senate product ensured safety of our state’s condominiums
while not creating crushing financial burdens on the millions of Floridians
living in condominiums.”
Bradley tried to pass a “narrower version” of the bill but the House
wouldn’t accept it.
Both chambers agreed upon requiring more safety inspections and transparency
measures but they couldn’t agree on the reserve issue.
A task force from the Florida Bar was formed after the collapse and Bill
Sklar was tapped to lead it. Sklar tells NBC 6 while everyone had the same
goal the details couldn’t be agreed upon before the legislative session
Sklar said the Senate worried many condo associations would go bankrupt if
they were required to come up with all the reserves needed within three
years. He said a starting point for the next session would be requiring half
the money within five years, giving associations a longer and slower path to
ramp up their savings accounts.
“While the ultimate goal of chair Perez and the House leadership was
correct, I’m not faulting them on that, their methodology was not viable,”
NBC 6 reached out to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office for a comment on the
legislature failing to send a final product to his desk but we have not yet
Families like the Langesfelds, meanwhile, are left worried for others as
lawmakers promise to take up the issue again next year.
“It’s pretty insulting that they say they’ll work on it next year. When next
year it could be too late,” Langesfeld said.