Bill expanding oversight, accountability of condo boards clears final Senate committee

Article Courtesy of Florida Politics

By Jesse Scheckner

Published February 29, 2024


‘This bill is the next necessary step.’

Legislation to shore up Florida’s condo laws and give state regulators more power to punish unscrupulous board members is bound for the Senate floor after clearing its final committee with uniform support.

Passing the measure (SB 1178) would mark a major overhaul of state statutes governing condo oversight and management by providing for criminal penalties for records violations, kickbacks and condo board election fraud.

It would create new education requirements for condo managers and improve transparency by requiring that building records be available online to owners. The bill would also clarify obligations for hurricane protection and revise Florida’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) laws to bar board members from using condo association funds for defamation actions.

Notably, it would also delete a line from Florida Statutes that today hinders the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) from enforcing condo and condo association laws.

The legislation is dubbed “Condo 3.0” by its House sponsor, Miami Republican Rep. Vicki Lopez, because it builds on a couple of laws the Legislature approved since 2021 to prevent another tragedy like the one that befell 98 residents of the Champlain Towers South condo that June.

“We have spent a lot of time over the last several years following the tragic Surfside collapse enacting changes to protect the millions of Floridians living in condos throughout our state and ensuring that older condo buildings are safe (and) in good financial health to protect both life and property,” said Fleming Island Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley, the bill’s sponsor. “This bill is the necessary next step.”

An amended version of the measure, which the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee unanimously approved Tuesday, includes a $7.4 million earmark — $6.1 million in recurring funds, $1.3 million nonrecurring — to pay for additional DBPR operations and 65 full-time employees to enforce the law.

The changes Bradley made to her bill make it again line up largely with the House version of the legislation (HB 1021), which similarly awaits a floor vote after undergoing numerous amendments and receiving uniform support in the committee process.