A new state law is making sure condominiums across the state are more resilient after the Surfside condominium collapse, but complying with the legislation is pricing many condo owners out of their homes.
Right now, many buildings across the state are going through a very stringent inspection process to determine if there are any structural deficiencies.
However, many condo owners are unable to pay for the large assessment fees to cover the cost of repairs. In many cases, the repairs needed to improve the structural integrity of the building are long overdue.
“Some of these buildings are very old and some of them don’t have reserves because that wasn’t the law,” said Aubrey Burris, a real estate attorney in Tampa.
In June 2021, the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside collapsed killing 98 people inside.
Since then, Florida legislators passed a new law that requires inspections for all condominiums and cooperative buildings that are three stories or higher.
Structural integrity reserve studies must be completed to determine if there are any issues with the structure or foundation of the building.
A ‘milestone’ inspection is required for buildings that are more than 30 years old.
Complying with the new legislation comes with a steep cost that’s passed onto condo owners in the form of hefty special assessment fees.
“So, for them to get these reports now and have to be forced into paying thousands and thousands each month,” said Burris. “Some of these places have a $50,000 special assessment due within a few months. How can someone on a fixed income pay for that? So ultimately, they’re going to be forced to sell their unit at a lower value.”
There’s another challenge.
Condominium associations must have sufficient reserve money available to cover the cost for any structural repairs.
The law also prohibits waiver of funding for certain structural reserves.
These new mandates from Florida legislators are prompting many condo owners to sell their properties before the assessment fees are due.
“People are competing to sell their properties,” said Sara Taylor, a real estate consultant in Clearwater. “We’re seeing price reductions to entice buyers to come in and we’re seeing people who just can’t afford it having to list their condos and find another place to move.”