Authorities in Miami-Dade County identified the final known victim of the tragic collapse of Champlain Tower South condominium in Surfside, Fla., earlier this week, ending a month-long search and recovery operation. Ninety-eight people were killed after the building fell in the early morning hours of June 24. Since the tragedy, standards of practice and legal requirements related to ensuring maintenance and structural integrity of condominiums understandably have come under scrutiny.  

Condominiums are home to millions of people in the U.S., and government officials at the local, state, and federal levels have started considering what changes need to occur to prevent a similar building collapse from happening again. 

CAI’s Government and Public Affairs Committee recently held a meeting with experts representing attorneys, builders, reserve specialists, and insurance professionals to discuss current best practices, standards, and public policies related to condominium structural integrity requirements. Three working groups were formed based on the overarching themes of the discussion to help establish guidance and model language for CAI’s state legislative action committees as well as considerations for state legislators. 

Building inspections and maintenance. Several counties in Florida have inspection obligations that require a structural and electrical engineer or architect to conduct a building inspection and certify the safety of the building. CAI is studying these requirements and similar ones in other localities to develop standards for condominiums and other high-rise residential buildings. 

Reserve study planning and funding. A reserve study is a budget planning tool—consisting of both a physical and financial analysis—that identifies the components an association must maintain or replace, the current status of the reserve fund, and a stable and equitable funding plan to offset anticipated major common area expenditures, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research’s Best Practices report on reserve studies and reserves management. 

Reserve studies for condominium associations are currently required in nine states: California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington state. Washington statutorily encourages associations to have a reserve study performed every three years unless doing so would impose an unreasonable hardship. Florida statute does not require a reserve study but requires a reserve schedule for repair and replacement of major components. 

In addition, condominium associations are required to have reserve funding for maintenance, repair, and replacement of major components in 11 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, and Oregon. CAI will be exploring tax benefits to incentivize association reserve funding as well as for special assessments and loans used to fund component maintenance, repair, and replacement. 

Insurance. CAI is reviewing best practices and standards for adequate insurance coverage for condominiums and individual units. 

CAI is uniquely positioned to lead the conversation on these structural integrity standards, best practices, and policy changes to benefit our more than 42,000 members, the 73.5 million Americans living in community associations, and the millions more living in community associations around the world. We will continue to engage in conversations with members, experts, and stakeholders in the community association housing model to strengthen existing standards and public policy in these areas. 

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