Heightened statutory inspection and maintenance requirements in high-rise condominium buildings emphasize the critical importance of similar inspection and maintenance regimens for similarly situated properties.
On June 24, 2021, Champlain Towers South, a 12-story oceanfront condominium building suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed killing 98 people. On May 25, 2022, almost one year later the State of Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 4D which will now require milestone inspections of condominium buildings three stories or greater and located within three miles of the coast when they reach 25 years of age and of buildings located more than three miles from the coast when they reach 30 years of age. Buildings will be required to have an inspection every 10 years thereafter with inspection records to be made available to buyers, renters, and unit owners. Additionally, for buildings occupied before July 1, 1992, the first inspection must be completed by December 31, 2024. After December 31, 2024, condominium associations will be prohibited from waiving the collection of reserve funds to pay for routine or additional maintenance and repairs.
The calls for new inspection and maintenance requirements were initiated following the Champlain Towers South collapse during a meeting convened by representatives from the International Code Council, the National Institute of Building Sciences, the Building Owners and Managers International (BOMA), the Building Officials of Florida (BOAF), Community Associations Institute (CAI) and representatives of the insurance industry intended to advise policymakers and to create guidelines that could be used to help prevent future catastrophic building collapses.
Condominiums similarly situated are cautioned to be vigilant in regularly conducting similar inspections by licensed professionals and implementing maintenance programs to ensure ongoing compliance with building codes and to ensure their buildings are safe for continued use and occupancy. The new statutory requirements in Florida highlight the heightened concern for more frequent inspections of buildings in any state located within immediate or close distances to marine/coastal environments, which notably are exposed and susceptible to high wind weather events and to a corrosive salt environment, which can in many instances trigger more frequent and extensive maintenance requirements to ensure safe and healthy occupants and buildings alike. Presently reserve studies and other requirements that are statutorily mandated in Virginia will not uncover these targeted issues. Remember, buildings are like our bodies, they frequently need to have their components assessed and maintained to remain strong and healthy.