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How Florida laws changed after the Surfside collapse

In May, state lawmakers unanimously passed condo safety reforms.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A standing ovation erupted in the state House chambers last month after lawmakers unanimously approved condo safety reforms — 11 months after the Surfside condo collapse killed 98 people.

The House passed Senate Bill 4-D during a May special session after a similar bill failed to pass both chambers during the regular session. The comprehensive reform to condominium safety laws and regulations includes some provisions recommended by a safety task force in the wake of the Surfside collapse.

"This is a particularly unique circumstance where the state has a compelling interest to intervene and make sure people's lives are not at risk,” State Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Democrat who represents Surfside said.

Signed into law days later by Governor Ron DeSantis, the law makes stricter inspection rules for condos that are three stories or higher, requiring recertification or a “milestone inspection” of buildings after 30 years and every 10 years after, or after 25 years if the building is within three miles of the coasts.

The state defines a “milestone inspection,” as a structural inspection of a building, conducted by a licensed architect or engineer looking into the primary structural systems of the building and “attesting to the life safety and adequacy of the structural components.”  

The new law will also require condo associations to have sufficient reserve funding — determined by a formula — on hand to make necessary repairs and keep up with maintenance.

Associations will also be required to keep all safety and inspection records on hand and provide them to prospective buyers and renters. 

“I'm actually really excited that this is something we agreed upon. It is necessary and I was very disappointed that during the entire session it just died, and frankly I think it’s essential,” State Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami said.

Lawmakers hope the new law will prevent a future tragedy from happening after lawsuits filed by the families of those killed say the condo in Surfside was in dire need of major repair and in the midst of its 40-year structural review when it crumbled to the ground.

"This is something that could have been prevented in Surfside if we would have had this data, and we just need to make sure that our buildings are safe,” State Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, a civil engineer said.

Prior to the signing of this bill, only two counties — Miami-Dade and Broward required recertification of older high-rises after 40 years. 

The law will likely have a large impact, considering there are roughly 1.5 million condos in the state, more than 900,000 of which are older than 30 years. 

While lawmakers largely praised the new law, some voiced concerns over the state not having enough inspectors on-hand to handle the increasing workload moving forward.

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