Could Mandatory Inspections Prevent Future Condo Tragedies in Boca Raton?

Posted by Brian Pearl on Friday, September 10th, 2021 at 2:34pm

Surfside Condominium CollapseIn the wake of the tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, more questions and concerns regarding the safety of buildings throughout South Florida have emerged seemingly every day. Now, a coalition under Palm Beach County’s League of Cities has proposed an inspection of many condos, apartment buildings, hotels, and offices both east and west of I-95.

The proposal targets buildings a minimum of 25 years old east of the highway, and 35 years old on the western side, regardless of height. This surpasses the standard of 40 years of age in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. While one and two-family homes, government buildings, and schools are excluded, this would result in a massive undertaking, as 90% of the condominiums stretching from South Palm Beach to Boca Raton would fall under scrutiny.

Delray Beach, Boca Raton, and Highland Beach are home to the majority of these buildings. 

Boca Raton Creates New Building Recertification Program

Boca Raton became the first in Palm Beach County to create a building recertification program on Tuesday after the City Council met on August 24th, exactly two months since the tragic fall of the Champlain Towers condo development in Surfside, Florida. The day marked two months since the tragic fall of the Champlain Towers condo complex in Surfside.  

The new ordinance will require buildings at their 30-year mark to submit an inspection report every 10 years. It does not include single-family homes and duplexes. The law will affect buildings that stand more than three stories high or ones that measure more than 5,000 square feet and hold more than 500 people. 

Boca Raton has identified 242 condo and apartment buildings that will be subject to recertification under the new ordinance. The city will follow a schedule for four years to eliminate the backlog in four areas, or zones, starting east and west of Interstate 95. Boca Raton plans to create a database that will make inspection reports and other information related to the building recertification program available to the public in accordance with the Public Records Act. 

Boca Raton Condominium Zone Map

Palm Beach County Condominiums

Highland Beach is also drafting their own proposal, with buildings 25 years of age or older in the crosshairs, and re-inspections every 7 years. Regardless of the final decisions, there appears to be a unified focus on safety across city and county boundaries.

If these new standards move forward, then-current and aspiring condo owners will naturally be wondering where the funds for these inspections might come from. Initial ideas include supplemental money and grants provided by the cities and towns home to the buildings, but most of the responsibility will fall on the condominium boards.

As for enforcement, Boca Raton’s proposal may provide several clues:

Under the proposed plan, each qualifying building will receive notices of required inspections, and should any repairable issues be uncovered, condo owners would have 180 days under which to complete them. Owners will have three chances to complete the repairs to the city’s satisfaction before risking being referred to the Permitting and Construction Review Board who may include a special magistrate for enforcement. In addition, a public database will be created that will list current and upcoming recertification dates. It would appear that condo buildings that do not comply run the risk of losing future residents. On the other hand, a fully certified building could provide peace of mind.

At the end of the day, deferred maintenance could have financial and life-threatening repercussions for buildings that don’t abide by these or similar proposals.

Wondering whether your condo building is part of this new initiative?

Contact the Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Highland Beach experts at The Pearl Antonacci Group today! For a free no obligation consultation, call us at 561.463.0408 or contact one of our top Boca Raton Realtors online.

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