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Sprinkler delay makes it into property development bill

The bill would give high-rise condo complexes another four years to comply.

The House and Senate approved an amendment to a property development bill that pushes the dates back for condominiums to get their fire safety systems up to code.

High-rise condos currently face a Jan. 1, 2020, deadline to install fire sprinkler systems up to code. Bills considered by the Legislature this year would have moved the date back.

SB 908, the preferred solution among firefighters, would have set up benchmarks for complexes to get sprinkler systems installed, extending the runway for final completion out to Jan. 1, 2024.

HB 647, the bill preferred by condo owners, would have set Jan. 1, 2023 as the final deadline, though it also included a provision allowing condo associations to opt out of installing sprinklers with a two-thirds vote by unit owners.

The sprinkler language added into HB 7103 doesn’t address the benchmarks or contain the opt-out provision, but it does push the date back to Jan. 1, 2024.

The bill also requires CFO Jimmy Patronis, in his capacity as State Fire Marshal, to collect data on how many high-rise condos — defined as those over 75 feet tall — haven’t complied with the retrofit requirements.

The data call was a win to the pro-sprinkler side, as they’ve been battling against a narrative that retrofits could cost billions if every building has to comply.

Current law allows associations to opt out of installs with a majority vote and requires them to report those votes to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Since the sprinkler requirements went into effect, only about 4,000 associations have submitted opt-out votes to DBPR and among those are several complexes that don’t meet the 75-foot threshold for the rules to apply.

On Friday, HB 7103 was sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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