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Must Read before Purchasing a Condo in Florida!

Posted 02-02-2024 at 10:19 AM by Sunshine Rules

For those who may not have heard, Florida law now requires certain condominium associations and cooperatives (mainly those with 3 or more stories) to conduct a “milestone inspection” and “structural integrity reserve study” aimed to protect public health, safety, and welfare after the infamous Surfside condo collapse.

Effective as of March 20, 2023, all FL condo sales contracts must now include a condo rider that requires a seller provide a buyer, at the seller’s expense, a copy of any milestone inspection and structural integrity reserve study, if applicable and if available from the governing condo association.

So what is a milestone inspection? It must be completed by an appropriate Florida licensed engineer/architect

The inspection report must, among other things:
Identify any substantial structural deterioration and recommend repairs;
State whether unsafe or dangerous conditions are observed; and
Recommend any remedial or preventive repairs for damaged items that are not considered to be substantial structural deterioration.

Specifically, these inspections are required for condominium and cooperative buildings three stories or higher that have been (i) occupied for 30 years or more or (ii) occupied for 25 years or more and located within three miles of the Florida coastline. The inspection must be completed by December 31 of the year in which the building reaches 30 or 25 years of age, as applicable, and every ten years thereafter.

With the milestone inspection also comes the Structural Integrity Reserve Study.

The structural integrity reserve study is a study of reserve funds necessary for future major repairs of the common elements of a condominium or cooperative that are three stories or higher. The study must:
Identify the common areas being inspected;
State the estimated remaining useful life and estimate the replacement cost of the common areas being inspected; and
Provide a recommended annual reserve amount that achieves the estimated cost of replacement of such common areas by the end of the estimated remaining useful life.
The study must be completed at least every ten years.

Both the milestone inspection and structural integrity reserve study are to be paid for by the condo association.

Here's an interesting note: Architect/engineer who performed inspections must submit a sealed copy of the inspection report and findings to the association AND appropriate local building officials.

Here's the other big change as a result of this new legislation: RESERVES

Beginning in 2025, members of a unit owner-controlled condominium association may not elect to provide no reserves or less reserves than required for the following building components: (1) the roof; (2) load-bearing walls or other primary structural members; (3) floors; (4) the foundation; (5) fireproofing and fire protection systems; (6) plumbing; (7) electrical systems; (8) waterproofing and exterior painting; (9) windows; and (10) any other item that has a deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost that exceeds $10,000 and the failure to replace or maintain such item negatively affects one or more of the components above, as determined by a licensed engineer or architect performing the visual inspection portion of the SIRS.

In the past condo associations had the option of collecting less than would be required for reserves if they wished to do so. Some condo associations took this option as a means of keeping monthly or quarterly maintenance fees lower. When they found themselves short on funds when a necessary repair was required, they would opt for special assessments to make up the difference.

The new legislation will definitely have an impact going forward on a number of condo communities in our local area.

The findings in the study will provide owners and potential buyers of condominium and cooperative units an idea as to future assessments they might be responsible for going forward if they buy in that particular community.
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