News & Insights

Florida Amends Condominium Inspection Statute

On June 9, 2023, Florida Governor Ron Desantis signed legislation amending the inspection requirements for condominium buildings that reach thirty years of age and for condominiums the control of which is turned over from the ownership association to the owners themselves.  See 2023 Fla. Sess. Law Serv. 203.  Some of the changes directly impact inspection requirements related to architectural and engineering soundness.

Of significant note for architects and engineers, Florida Statute § 553.899(2)(a) was amended to permit an architect or engineer to delegate certain “milestone inspection services” activities to a team of professionals in their responsible charge.  This inspection is required when the building reaches thirty (30) years old, and every ten (10) years thereafter.  

Newly added subsection (3)(c) permits local enforcement agencies to extend the deadline for a building’s initial milestone inspection, “upon a showing of good cause by the owner or owners of the building that the inspection cannot be timely completed if the owner or owners have entered into a contract with an architect or engineer to perform the milestone inspection and the inspection cannot reasonably be completed before the deadline or other circumstance to justify an extension.” The preceding inspection requirements concern a “phase one” inspection. 

Subsection (7)(b) provides a “phase two” inspection is required if “any substantial structural deterioration is identified during phase one. . . .”  Unlike the previous language, the amendment appears to require the same architect or engineer who performed and reported the phase one inspection also perform the phase two inspection and submit the phase two report.  The reports must also be provided to “any other owner of any portion of the building which is not subject to the condominium or cooperative form of ownership. . . .”

Beyond adjusting the reporting requirements and qualifications required for inspectors, the legislation expanded the “structural reserve study” requirements applicable when an ownership association turns over control to the unit owners.  Relevant to architects and engineers providing inspections, the structural reserve study must now include inspections of the structure, “including load-bearing walls and other primary structural members and primary structural systems”; “windows and exterior doors”; and requiring the visual inspection portion of any structural reserve study be “performed or verified” by specified experts.  (Emphasis added.)  Previous requirements allowed greater latitude in what was inspected.

The remaining amendments do not impact architects and engineers, concerning mainly insurance and other ownership issues for condominium and cooperative associations.  While the amendments expand some inspection responsibilities, they also permit the responsible architect or engineer to delegate inspection duties to a duly qualified team.  Thus, streamlining the process, all while making strides to catch catastrophic failures before they happen.