Surfside Response: Actions Condo Board Members Should Take Now

By Laura Otto
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In the months after the devastating collapse of Champlain Tower South Condominium Association in Surfside, Fla., residents and board members are questioning how to keep themselves and their property safe.

Condominium association board members have a fiduciary duty to protect their community. There are several steps board members can take to ensure the community is safe:

  • Determine if an inspection is needed.
  • Determine if there are any signs of structural concerns that need to be addressed.
  • Determine whether your building is safe.
  • Conduct or review your reserve plan using best practices.
  • Review your reserve funding plan and fund accordingly.
  • Have a conversation with your community homeowners about reserve study/plan/schedule and funding.
  • Take actions required in the reserve plan.
  • Maintain frequent communication with residents/homeowners about these important issues.
  • Be transparent with homeowners about how much repairs might cost and whether a special assessment may be necessary.

Additionally, reserve study laws for condominiums vary by state. Reserve studies or reserve schedules are required in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Washington state statutorily encourages associations to have a reserve study performed every three years unless doing so would impose an unreasonable hardship. In most states, there are several points at which homeowners are made aware of reserves, including:

  • Initial point of sale/public offering statement where many states have laws requiring the declarant to provide the buyer with information about whether there is funding (reserves) for future repair and replacement of major components.
  • Disclosure of funds budgeted for future repair and replacement of major components during resale of a unit to a new owner.
  • Annual budget adoption.

For additional resources, visit www.caionline.org/CondoSafety.  

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Laura Otto

Laura Otto is editor of CAI’s award-winning Community Manager. A seasoned journalist, Laura previously worked for a creative, advocacy agency in Washington, D.C., where she wrote and edited content for a variety of public health clients. Prior to that, Laura served as a senior writer and editor for the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Laura is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia.