MIAMI – Homebuyers considering a condominium cannot inspect key documents covering repair reserves and structural security until they have signed a contract of sale. That could change after the Surfside condominium collapse, with elected leaders and advocates pushing for transparency measures on private buildings.
In a meeting led by a Miami-Dade commissioner on Friday, industry representatives called on Florida to strengthen disclosure requirements and management standards for condominium associations. And an insurance salesman warned that the bills for the old resorts would be higher, assuming they can find an insurance provider.
“We are going to see many condo associations facing a very difficult time in the near future to obtain insurance,” said Dulce Suarez-Resnick, vice president of sales at Acentria Insurance, to a county subcommittee headed by Commissioner Raquel Regalado looking for post-Surfside legislative changes. “Or even keep the assurance that they currently have.”
Suarez-Resnick said that prior to the June 24 meltdown, carriers asked her condominium customers for documents on reserves, budgets and the condition of the roof. “Now all of a sudden they’re asking you for the 40-year certification and they’re asking you for an engineering report. It has become much stricter.
Condo buyers do not have access to these documents, a situation which, according to a representative of the real estate sector, should change.
Danielle Blake, head of government affairs for the Miami Association of Realtors, pointed out that there had been 22 sales at Champlain Towers South in the 12 months leading up to the partial collapse that killed 98 people. At the time, the complex was preparing to begin a $ 15 million renovation for the 1981 tower after a 2018 engineering report pointed to structural issues that needed to be corrected.
“What did buyers really know before they went to buy? Blake said. She said current Florida law only requires condo sellers to turn in the association’s engineering reports and financial documents once a unit is under contract.
“These documents should be released, so that everyone is on the same page before I step into what would probably be the most expensive purchase of my life,” she said.
The county commission recently passed a resolution from Regalado urging Florida to create a statewide online condominium document database to make it easier for residents and buyers to find. “We’re also going to talk about what we could do here in Miami-Dade County,” she said.
Although Regalado was the only commissioner to attend on Friday, the panel is part of the board committee she chairs on infrastructure and operations. He plans to report to another post-Surfside county panel led by Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Commission Chairman Joe “Pepe” Diaz which includes federal and state lawmakers.
Paul Kaplan, general manager of Miami condominium management company KWPMC, told the Regalado panel that Florida needs to tighten condominium planning laws with respect to future repairs and maintenance. Current law allows condominium boards to waive a state obligation to set aside reserves.
“We find that this happens far too often,” he said. “We never recommend it. “
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