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DeSantis signs bill addressing safety after condo collapse

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida will require statewide recertification of condominiums over three stories tall under new legislation Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Thursday as a response to the Surfside building collapse that killed 98 people.

The governor’s signature came the day after the House unanimously passed the bill during a special session originally called to address skyrocketing property insurance rates. The condominium safety bill was added to the agenda Tuesday and immediately passed by the Senate.

“We owe the public a very detailed explanation of each section,” Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo said in a text message. Pizzo, who represents Surfside, plans to hold a public forum with other lawmakers next month to address questions about the new law.

Recertification will be required after 30 years, or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the coast, and every 10 years thereafter. The Champlain Towers South was 40 years old and was going through the 40-year-recertification process required by Miami-Dade County when it collapsed last June.

At the time, Miami-Dade and Broward counties were the only two of the state’s 67 that had condominium recertification programs.

There are more than 1.5 million condominium units in Florida operated by nearly 28,000 associations, according to a legislative analysis conducted earlier this year, Of those, more than 912,000 are older than 30 years and are the home to more than 2 million residents.

The bill would require that condominium associations have sufficient reserves to pay for major repairs and conduct a study of the reserves every decade. It would also require condominium associations to provide inspection reports to owners, and if structural repairs are needed, work must begin within a year of the report.

Similar legislation failed during the regular session that ended in March.

The condominium measure was attached to a bill that would forbid insurers from automatically denying coverage because of a roof’s age if the roof is less than 15 years old. Homeowners with roofs 15 years or older would be allowed to get an inspection before insurers deny them coverage.

While some Democratic lawmakers complained that the special session on insurance didn’t go far enough to help relieve homeowners, they did praise the addition of the condominium safety legislation.

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