TALAHASHI, FL (AP) – Florida will require re-certification of condominiums on three floors under a bill sent Wednesday by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to lawmakers, their legislation in response to the collapse of the Surfside 98 building that killed 98 people.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill during a special session initially designed to deal with the rapid rise in property insurance rates.
The condominium security bill was added to the agenda on Tuesday following an agreement between the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Re-certification will be required after 30 years or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the coast, and every 10 years thereafter. Champlain Towers South was 40 years old and underwent the 40-year re-certification process required by Miami-Dade County when it collapsed last June.
At the time, Miami-Dade and Broward counties were the only two of the 67 states that had condominium recertification programs.
“We’ve actually made positive changes, knowing that condominiums will be safer to move forward,” said Republican Daniel Perez.
The bill stipulates that condominium associations have sufficient reserves to pay for major repairs and study reserves every decade. It will also require condominium associations to provide inspection reports to owners, and if structural repairs are required, work should begin within a year of the report.
At the regular session, which ended in March, similar legislation failed.
A condominium measure has been attached to a bill that prohibits insurers from automatically denying coverage due to the age of the roof if the roof is less than 15 years old. Owners of houses with roofs older than 15 years will be allowed to undergo an inspection before insurers deny them coverage.
While some Democratic lawmakers have complained that a special insurance session has not gone far enough to make it easier for homeowners, they have praised the addition of condominium safety legislation.
“This bill makes this trip worthwhile, at least for me,” said Democratic MP Michael Grick, whose district borders Surfside. “I know people who have lost people in this building.”
He recalled how on the first day the families were allowed to go to the crash site.
“Hear people scream in constipation,” he said. “They shouted at people who may still be alive. I’ll never forget that sound.”