Florida lawmakers ensure condo residents are better protected from another Surfside tragedy | Opinion

·2 min read

During Florida’s regular legislative session, some important issues ended up falling just short of the finish line. This was the case with a proposal in January crafted to address, and God willing, prevent the tragedy of the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside from ever happening again.

The measure focused on three important pillars: milestone inspections, structural integrity studies and transparency requirements on the history of a condo building for a potential sale.

Last week, during a special session called to address property insurance, my colleagues and I pushed to include legislation to reform condominium and cooperative associations, bringing this needed reform across the finish line. Wednesday, the bill passed out of both chambers with bipartisan and unanimous support

The legislation, signed into law by Gov. DeSantis, on Thursday, will ensure that condominiums and cooperatives plan for necessary repairs and maintenance. They are required to complete structural integrity studies every 10 years. The law protects residents by mandating that reserve funding be set aside to pay for any structural-integrity repairs or needed maintenance. A statewide structural-inspection program also will be created to conduct milestone inspections for buildings 30 years old or older, 25 years old or older for buildings near the coast and every 10 years after that. These inspections will be conducted by an independent engineer or architect and, if structural-integrity issues are found, they must be addressed and fixed within one year.

The legislation also includes accountability measures that would require that a full history of the building be provided to any potential buyers. This transparency will ensure that issues do not get swept under the rug if the ownership changes hands and puts the safety and well-being of residents first.

We know that legislative action cannot reduce the pain of the 98 lives lost and that words and passages in statute books cannot take away the tragedy of that day, but it is our hope that these reforms will prevent future tragedies and ensure that condominiums and cooperatives are properly maintained from this day forward.

Florida Rep. Danny Perez represents House District 116.