Legislature approves ‘Condo 3.0’ bill to boost board accountability, building safety
Condo associations will sson be under the microscope after the Surfside collapse. Image via AP.

AP SURFSIDE (6) 7.7.21
Hollywood Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo noted that he proposed many of the bill’s reforms in legislation lawmakers largely ignored 5 years ago.

Malfeasant condo board members and associations that for years have skirted Florida law through loopholes in state statutes may soon face a reckoning due to a reform package now bound for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.

Lawmakers unanimously passed HB 1021, which will overhaul state laws governing condo oversight and management by holding condo buildings and their boards more accountable for their maintenance, repairs, reserves and recordkeeping.

Fleming Island Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley, who carried the legislation with Miami Republican Rep. Vicki Lopez, gave a brief overview of the measure’s provisions.

Among other things, it creates new education requirements for condo managers and improves transparency by requiring that building records be available online to owners. The bill also clarifies obligations for hurricane protection and revises Florida’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) laws to bar board members from using condo association funds for defamation actions.

Notably, it would also delete a line from Florida Statutes that today hinders the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) from enforcing condo and condo association laws.

To pay for added DBPR operations and staff to enforce the law, the measure includes a $7.4 million earmark, $6.1 million recurring, $1.3 million nonrecurring.

Lopez has called the bill “Condo 3.0,” as it builds on a pair of prior measures lawmakers passed since the deadly June 2021 collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside.

Those changes are long overdue, Senate members agreed ahead of a 40-0 vote. And they could have come five years sooner, Hollywood Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo added.

Pizzo commended Bradley for her diligent work on the issue and for being “incredibly intelligent” in ushering it to passage.

But it could have passed sooner, he said, if Republican lawmakers hadn’t minded that the bill carried the name of a Democrat.

Pizzo pointed out that he filed legislation five years ago, before the Surfside collapse, that included many of the changes HB 1021 will bring.

“It fell on deaf ears,” he said. “Until people died.”

He rattled off several other measures he carried first that largely went ignored until it received GOP sponsorship in later years, including bans on balloon releases and protesting in front of people’s homes.

This year, he said, he filed a career-low number of bills for consideration because he’d given “all of the good ideas” he had to his GOP colleagues “so they actually pass.”

“That’s where we are. It is what it is,” he said. “You guys have passed 20 bills that I (originally) filed. But people died because of partisanship. Ninety-eight people died in my district because of partisanship.”

Bradley thanked Senate President Kathleen Passidomo for her support, particularly because of the bill’s “significant fiscal impact” through the expansion of DBPR’s jurisdiction. She also acknowledged Republican Sens. Jim Boyd of Bradenton, Nick DiCeglie of St. Petersburg, Ileana Garcia of Miami and Clay Yarborough of Jacksonville, as well as Democratic Sens. Shevrin Jones of Miami Gardens and Rosalind Osgood of Tamarac, for their input.

“And yes, Sen. Pizzo, this builds on the very good work that you have been doing for years,” she said. “So, thank you for the work that you have done.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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