Crist veto kills financial reprieve for condo owners, associations
Should a task force be created?
Daniel Vasquez on condos | Condo columnist
June 10, 2009
When Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a sweeping condominium reform bill earlier this month, he said it was for safety reasons and to specifically make sure associations did not delay required fire sprinkler upgrades.
Senate Bill 714 was packed with various condo-related items, including issues related to state-mandated safety retrofit requirements and insurance requirements.
But along with throwing out proposed postponements of state-mandated installation of fire sprinklers, Crist’s veto also killed hopes for a temporary financial reprieve for cash-strapped associations and the clean up of confusing and cumbersome insurance requirements for associations and unit owners.
At a time when so many condo communities across South Florida and the state struggle to pay bills as a result of high numbers of foreclosures and owners in delinquency — many will have to scramble to come up with the money to pay for safety projects.
"The governor’s veto was [about] safety," said Barbara Zee, of the Palm County association umbrella group Alliance of Delray. "However, these are extraordinarily tough economic times. It was a true necessity for financially struggling associations to get an extension of time" to pay for upgrades, she said.
Key results of the veto:
No extension for fire sprinkler retrofitting deadline for condo buildings. The deadline remains at 2014, not 2025. Associations will have to spend the money to make the deadline or obtain a vote of owners to forego retrofitting by Dec. 31, 2014.
No exemption for fire alarm requirements as stated in the Florida Life Safety Code for associations with single and two-story buildings.
Condo owners will continue to be required to purchase unit owner insurance (H06) and to name the association as an additional insured, which means if there is a hurricane check it is made out to the owner and the association.
Associations may also continue to request proof of insurance each year from unit owners, and may purchase insurance on behalf of owners who do not have valid insurance.
"The veto means associations such as mine still have unresolved issues concerning insurance, such as who is responsible for deductibles on the association policy when damage is caused by unit owner action," sad Dick Herman, president of the Burgundy A Association in Kings Point of Delray Beach. "And how much does the association board want to police unit owners?"
In reaction to the veto and to overwhelming financial circumstances facing associations, some Florida lawmakers want Crist to create a Condo Task Force.
Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, say a task force could address what they call a legislative "failure" to address the impact of the foreclosure crisis on seniors and others living in community associations. The task force would be staffed with community association representatives, realtors, lenders, banking officials and legislators, and address a broad range of condo issues.
What do you say? Should Crist create a condo task force? Send your responses via e-mail. Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 954-356-4219 ( Broward County) or 561-243-6686 (Palm Beach County). His condo column runs every Wednesday in the Local section and online at www.sunsentinel.com/condos. You can also read his consumer column every Monday in Your Money and online at www.sunsentinel.com/vasquez.