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New law adds pressure to inspect condos, fund reserves

Most condo associations in Florida do not put the proper funds away for addressing maintenance issues. Under a new law, boards will have to step up their finances.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A new law to inspect aging condominiums in Florida is putting pressure on condo boards and engineers.

The law was passed as part of the state's efforts to address insurance reform. Insurance experts say some associations are not addressing maintenance issues or putting enough money away to address problems. The new law requires condo associations to have enough money in financial reserves and get inspections based on the age, location and height of the building.

Leo Cannyn is a Project Manager at Beryl Project Engineering. He helps condo boards understand their finances through a reserve study. Boards will set aside money for things like roofs, painting, landscaping and lighting in their reserves.

“There is something like 30,000 condominium associations in Florida and only like 20 percent have a reserve study so first and foremost, this will protect the membership," Cannyn said. "They’ll have a budget, they’ll know when their roofs need to be replaced. They’ll know when their buildings need to be painted. It will lower the threat of a special assessment because they’ll already have a budget and be saving money for it. On the flip side of that, because they haven’t been doing this. Dues are going to go up."

There are few companies that are qualified to do both a reserve study to see if associations are saving enough and the required milestone inspection.

“This is a new burden on us to produce these reports because there are very few engineers, especially in this region Tampa Bay that do reserve studies and can do these structural inspections,” Cannyn said.

He adds now is the time for boards to start getting these done.

"I don't want boards basically fined by the state of Florida or worst yet, the members suing the board because they waited to the last minute to get these done," Cannyn said.

Condo boards could find that they have to raise the monthly maintenance dues substantially to meet the requirements. Cannyn says this could mean 60 or 70 percent increases for some, so it could really impact those who live on fixed incomes.

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