Florida changes milestone inspection requirements for condominium associations
Numerous changes were recently made to Florida’s mandatory milestone inspection requirement for condominium associations. This statewide requirement was enacted last year to ensure aging condominium buildings that are three stories or more in height remain safe for continued use. Its fundamental purpose was to prevent a repeat of the tragic 2021 building collapse in Surfside, Florida. Now, condominium associations must determine the applicability and implications of Florida’s amended mandatory milestone inspection requirement.
Senate Bill 154 made quite a few changes to the milestone inspection requirement. Some were made for purposes of clarification. Others were made to address issues and ambiguities that were revealed after the law was enacted. All the changes, however, need to be reviewed and understood by board members statewide because any one of them could have significant implications for their condominium association.
For example, the new deadline to complete a building’s initial milestone inspection will be relatively meaningless to some associations, but crucial to others. Under the amended law, if a condominium building that is three or more stories in height reached 30 years of age before July 1, 2022, its initial milestone inspection must be done before December 31, 2024. But, if a building reaches 30 years of age on or after July 1, 2022, and before December 31, 2024, its initial milestone inspection must be done before December 31, 2025.
Some associations will also need to know that the 25-year milestone inspection for buildings located within three miles of the coastline is no longer mandatory. Instead, local agencies responsible for enforcing milestone inspections have the option to set a 25-year inspection requirement for buildings three stories or more in height if justified by local environmental conditions, including proximity to seawater.
The milestone inspection requirements for condominium buildings three or more stories in height were also amended to:
- Limit milestone inspections to buildings that include a residential condominium;
- Provide that milestone inspection requirements apply to buildings owned by mixed-use condominiums and clarify that all owners of a mixed-use condominium building are responsible for ensuring compliance and sharing costs;
- Authorize local enforcement agencies to extend the inspection deadline for a building upon a petition showing good cause that the association has contracted with an architect or engineer to perform the milestone inspection and it cannot reasonably be completed before the deadline;
- Permit local enforcement agencies to accept an inspection and report that was completed before July 1, 2022, if it substantially complies with the milestone requirements; however, associations must still comply with unit owner notice requirements. (Note: If a local enforcement agency accepts a previous inspection as a milestone inspection, the deadline for a subsequent 10-year re-inspection is based on the date of a previous inspection.);
- Provide that the condominium association is responsible for all inspection costs attributable to the portions of the building for which it is responsible under the governing documents of the association;
- Require associations to give unit owners notice about the inspection deadlines, electronically or by posting on the association’s website, within 14 days after they receive the initial milestone inspection notice from the local enforcement agency;
- Require the milestone inspector to submit a phase two progress report to the local enforcement agency within 180 days of submitting the phase one inspection report; and
- Clarify that an association must distribute a copy of the summary of the inspection reports to unit owners within 45 days of its receipt.
Given the potential significance of all the recent changes to Florida’s mandatory milestone inspection requirement, association board members should consider consulting a licensed professional to ensure compliance and avoid violations. Board members should also review their association’s Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance policy to confirm sufficient coverage as mistakes are more likely to happen whenever the law changes.
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