A Florida bill setting statewide minimum structural recertification inspections and post-occupancy whole building safety inspections failed to pass the state legislature on March 11, ending proponents’ hopes of enacting safeguards to prevent a repeat of last summer’s collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium.
Separate measures in the state House and Senate to reform condominium and cooperative associations had incorporated recommendations developed by a coalition of Florida building industry professional groups, including requiring a two-phase building recertification process similar to those already in place in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.
According to Allen Douglas, executive director of the Florida Engineering Society and American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida, the House was unwilling to go along with Senate amendments that stripped all but the inspection requirements from the proposed legislation. The contentious portions of the bill included requirements for condominiums to hold money in reserve for repairs, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“Nobody seemed to have a problem with the inspection aspects of the bills,” Douglas says, adding that failure to enact some form of inspection requirement before the legislature adjourned March 11 represents “a missed opportunity” to pass much-needed statewide building safety guidelines.
“There are more buildings like Surfside out there,” he said.
Douglas is unsure whether another attempt to enact inspection requirements will be made next year, or what role the industry should play in pursuing either a legislative or regulatory solution. The Florida Legislature is only in session for one sixty-day period each year, and will not reconvene until March 2023.
“We came up with some recommendations to prevent another collapse, but that’s as far as we can go,” he says. “The other aspects are for the legislature to decide.”