Florida Senate Bill 4-D Signed Into Law
Senate Bill 4-D, recently passed in the Florida Senate, will change condo living for millions of Florida condo owners. Florida has more than 1.5 million condos that are home to more than 2 million residents. The new law is a direct result of the Champlain Towers condo tragedy in Surfside last year and will ultimately make condo living safer for Florida condo owners. Associations are already starting to see the changes happening since this bill has passed even though most provisions will not take effect until the end of 2024.
Senate Bill 4-D establishes substantial new structural safety and reserve requirements for Florida condominiums and cooperative associations. We are encouraging anyone who owns a condo or is thinking about purchasing a condo to read the bill for a full understanding of the new requirements.
On or before a building turns 30 years old (or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles of the coast) the building must be visually inspected by a licensed engineer or architect, and then re-inspected every 10 years thereafter. Condo buildings are also required to conduct a reserve study every 10 years to ensure that they have the reserves necessary to make major repairs when needed. Currently many condo buildings in south Florida do not even have a reserve account. As a result, many of these condo owners will see their monthly condo fees increase in order to fund a reserve account and be in compliance with the new provision.
Agents at By The Sea Realty are condo specialists and we sell a lot of condos. We get questions every day from buyers and sellers regarding building special assessments, building reserves and financing. Let’s touch on some of the the questions that you and your real estate agent should be asking an association when buying or selling a condo.
Condo Building Questions
- Has the building had its most recent required inspection and when was it completed?
- Were repairs required and have those repairs been completed?
- Are there any special assessments pending and what is the dollar amount? Who is responsible for the special assessment? Can it be negotiated between the seller and the buyer or does it need to be paid in full at closing? Can owners pay the assessments in installments?
- Has the required reserve study been completed and does the association have the required reserve account?
- How much is the monthly maintenance and does it include reserves?
- Is there any litigation in the building?
In addition to addressing obvious safety concerns, these questions are also important to the financial stability of the of the building. The answers to these questions will also determine whether condo purchases can be financed in the building. Unfortunately for buyers some associations may require an accepted offer before giving out some of this information, however we do expect more cooperation from associations moving forward. After executing a purchase agreement, buyers have 3 days to review all of the condo documents including the budget and building financials, as well as any pending special assessments. During this time contact the association to ask questions before moving forward with a purchase.
Understand the Repairs
With the passing of Senate Bill 4-D and these new requirements you can expect that many of the condo buildings in the area will be undergoing some major updating and repairs in upcoming years. Here are some things that you may want to consider before purchasing in a building that is about to undergo major updating or repairs.
- What hours during the day will work be going on in the building? Will all of the elevators be accessible?
- What is the noise factor going to be? Concrete and roof work can be quite loud. If you work from home or have pets this may not be an ideal situation.
- Will you have limited access to the amenities including the pool and sundeck?
- Some repairs may require the owner to move out of the unit for a period of time. Where will you go?
- Do you plan on renting your unit? If so you can expect to get less monthly rent until the work gets finished. In some cases it may be difficult to even find a willing renter while work is being completed.
Work with Local Professionals
Are you a buyer who needs to finance your purchase? Make sure you work with a local mortgage consultant who understands our Florida condo market. Some condos may not even be eligible for financing. A lender who knows what questions to ask and what underwriters will require will save you a lot of time and heartache. Your real estate agent should be able to refer you to lender who understands condos.
Finally, whether you are buying or selling a condo, you need a real estate agent who specializes in the South Florida condo market.