As the second anniversary of the tragic partial collapse of Champlain Tower South approaches, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) has unveiled significant revisions to its condo-safety policies and reforms. Representing the interests of community associations, CAI has shifted its stance by recommending the statutory mandate of reserve studies and funding for all community associations. This landmark shift marks a departure from their traditional approach, which left reserves funding and studies at the discretion of individual associations, without state law mandates.
This transformation in CAI’s public policy trajectory was instigated following the Surfside tragedy. In response, CAI formed three specialized task forces to explore comprehensive changes to laws and best practices aimed at preventing similar disasters. The task forces suggested a review and update of CAI’s reserve studies and funding public policies, which were initially established in 1983 and last updated in 2012. Acting upon this recommendation, CAI has embarked on a thorough overhaul of its policies, reaching beyond mere state mandates.
Among the notable changes, CAI’s new policy recommends heightened inspection requirements by developers during development and before transitioning to homeowners. Furthermore, post-transition, periodic inspections are now advocated. The new policy also emphasizes structural integrity through statutorily mandated inspections, aligned with the American Society of Civil Engineers‘ protocols. These inspections commence when buildings reach 10 years of age, recur at 20 years, and are conducted every five years thereafter.
The updated public policy recommendations incorporate practical guidance to facilitate communities’ transition to these new requirements while mitigating financial pressures on owners and associations. CAI’s volunteer advocates and staff will use these policies to inform their advocacy endeavors. The process of developing public policies at CAI involves input from members who can propose policy changes. All policies undergo thorough vetting by CAI chapters, state legislative action committees, member representation groups, the College of Community Association Lawyers, and the CAI Board of Trustees.
CAI’s impactful advocacy initiatives have significantly shaped legislative condominium-safety reforms in Florida, setting the pace for new mandates concerning inspections and reserves. Recent legislative sessions led to modifications in last year’s reforms. Milestone inspections are now required for buildings occupied for 30 years (25 years if within three miles of a coastline), with subsequent inspections mandated every 10 years. While buildings within three miles of the coastline can be inspected after 30 years of occupancy, local officials may necessitate inspections after 25 years based on environmental factors.
Additionally, condos three stories or higher are required to conduct structural integrity reserve studies for repair purposes. The revised law extends the completion deadline for these studies to January 1, 2025, and clarifies the components that must be included. The new law also stipulates that for budgets adopted after December 31, 2024, associations cannot vote to waive reserves for components covered in the structural integrity reserve study.
In response to ongoing developments, CAI has convened a building maintenance and structural integrity policy task force, slated to issue new policy recommendations related to façade maintenance, inspections, and safety in the fall of 2023.
For more information on CAI’s safety and structural integrity public policies and recommendations, please visit www.CondoSafety.com.
Original Article By Laura Manning- Hudson Miami Herald