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Broward May Make Condo Safety Records Public

It may get easier for Broward condo buyers to find building safety reports. An online resource would give owners structural reports and update the status of repairs.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County will consider requiring condos to submit building reports, with the goal of making them public so potential buyers have a better idea of whether the building is in OK condition.

The county has already created a website that would allow condo residents to easily find who is on their board of the directors, and access to condo documents that spell out the rules of how each building operates.

It comes in response to the June 2021 collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside that killed 98 people. The investigation of the cause of the collapse is a process that is expected to take years. Shoddy construction techniques used in the early 1980s when Champlain Towers South was built and a possible lack of proper maintenance by its condo association over the years are among the areas being explored.

County commissioners said they are motivated to ease the process for homebuyers and homeowners who want to see documents that show structural reports – as well as information that shows structural changes have not been made.

“It can happen again,” warned County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, the former director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management. “That building collapsed because of poor decisions of that board. If you’re going to buy into a building … all I want is … the documents are available somewhere that show the structural integrity issues, ‘cause that is not available now.”

The county can’t confirm the accuracy of the records that will make their way online, officials warn, but said it would ease with the transparency of information.

Moskowitz called the website “tremendously helpful, makes it just an easier rubric for people to know where to go.”

The state Legislature began taking action this week: House and Senate bills would require condo buildings to undergo safety inspections and maintain reserves to fix structural problems.

The Florida Legislature reached an agreement “that will help to ensure this kind of tragedy never happens again,” House Speaker Chris Sprowls announced in a statement.

Among provisions of the bill: The plan calls for buildings within three miles of the coast to be inspected before the building reaches age 25 and every 10 years afterward. Every 10 years, condominium boards must produce studies of the reserve funds required for future repairs of structural integrity components. And structural safety inspections would be required for buildings three stories or higher by the year the building turns 30 and every 10 years afterward.

Vice Mayor Lamar Fisher said he’s concerned about accuracy of the information: “Say the president changes today at Kings Point, how are we going to know?” he asked. “How are we going to be able to really police the issue? And is the information going to become stale next week?”

Acknowledged County Attorney Andrew Meyers: “There is going to be some staleness because it only requires an annual update.” Still, he said there will be enough contact information so that a homeowner can reach somebody.

The idea of a new website (browardinfo.org) was the brainchild of Commissioner Mark Bogen, who said he wanted a “one-stop shop” for people to get information.

The County Commission will take a formal vote of whether to require condo associations to provide engineering and architectural reports to a central repository at a future meeting.

The idea, Bogen said, is for the public “to have knowledge before buying.”

© 2022 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

The Realtor connection: Hallandale Beach Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub, a Florida Realtors member, spearheaded work as the first government body in Florida to adopt a Condo Transparency ordinance that includes a condo/HOA database. The Broward ordinance is modeled after the Hallandale ordinance.