This week, hundreds of CAI members met virtually with Florida state legislators to discuss 2022 legislative priorities. The CAI Florida Legislative Alliance (CAI-FLA) attended meetings to advocate on behalf of the more than 9 million Floridians living in community associations, according to estimates from the Foundation for Community Association Research.

The CAI-FLA is tracking dozens of legislative bills impacting homeowners associations and condominium communities, including legislation addressing the Champlain Tower South condominium collapse in June 2021. Advocates have worked with state legislators since last summer to find solutions that address building safety and structural integrity, including discussing the policy positions outlined in CAI’s Condominium Safety Public Policy Report.

The top priority bills discussed with Florida legislators this week are listed below. While there isn’t a bill pertaining to reserve studies, CAI has been working with members of the Florida House of Representatives who are drafting the bill and we expect it to be introduced in the coming days.

Building Inspections: SB 1702

CAI supports this legislation with amendments. CAI supports policy that requires initial and recurring inspections for buildings and other major structural elements owned or maintained by a community association. This includes all multifamily buildings and structures made of concrete, load-bearing masonry, steel, or structural systems such as heavy timber, including podium decks.

CAI recommends additional requirements by developers during the development process and prior to transition to the homeowners. CAI worked closely with developers on these recommendations. Structural integrity is addressed through statutorily mandated building inspections starting when the building is 10 years old, another inspection at 20 years, and every five years thereafter. Inspections are based on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) published protocol for building inspections (ANSI).

Local building inspectors play a key role in the execution of structural integrity public policy. Those with the authority to provide a certificate of occupancy and otherwise condemn a building have the authority and obligation to inspect a building’s structural integrity.

We look forward to working with the bill’s sponsors to create legislation that prioritizes safety and structural integrity while being practical for condominium communities.

Construction Defect Claims (Condo Warranty): SB 736/HB 583

CAI opposes this legislation. SB 736 creates impractical and impossible obstacles for community association claimants that would, in some cases, eliminate the opportunity to address legitimate construction defect issues. It would increase costs to home/property owners, delay resolution of disputes, and intensify the legal/litigation process rather than obtain the repairs needed to ensure safety. This legislation would mainly impact seniors living in active adult communities and homeowners in affordable townhomes and garden-style condominiums throughout Florida.

Ombudsman: HB 1033/SB 1296

CAI opposes this legislation. CAI helped create the condominium ombudsman by working with all stakeholders to produce a fair and equitable program. This proposal adds additional burdensome layers to community association governance by mandating the creation of an appeals committee to go along with the currently required fining committee; weakens the already stretched condominium arbitration program by adding homeowners associations into the mix; and includes a new state government program with money out of general revenue while still requiring condominium residents to pay for their ombudsman and the entire arbitration program out of their annual $4 fee.

Fines Levied by Association: HB 1039/SB 1362/SB 6103/SB 1364

CAI opposes this legislation. Guardrails currently exist for fining for violations such as setting statutory limits, requiring the creation of a fining committee separate from the association board, etc. Fines are an invaluable tool that community associations use to ensure resident compliance with the community’s governing documents and approved rules.

Display of Flags in Associations: HB 1371/SB 438

CAI opposes this legislation. CAI supports the right of all residents to fly the American flag. This legislation, however, prohibits a community association from adopting and enforcing a rule regarding other flags, including those that may be politically charged, offensive, discriminatory, and hateful. This legislation would cause disruption in communities,  leading to increased disputes and tension among neighbors, undue authority on the association’s board to navigate harassment from neighbor to neighbor, and an increase in legal fees to address these tenuous and difficult issues.

Click here for current legislation being tracked and addressed by CAI’s Florida Legislative Alliance. Connect with the CAI-FLA on Facebook or LinkedIn.

CAI is seeing similar legislation in other states. To view the legislation CAI is tracking and advocating for on in your state, visit our legislative tracking website.

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