The importance of condominium boards to ensure a building is safe

| Jul 14, 2021 | Real Estate Law |

Condominium living is advertised and promoted as the pinnacle of comfort in Florida. With the amenities provided by a well-functioning condominium and any issue overseen by a trusted condominium board, it can be difficult to envision the worst-case scenario. Unfortunately, with the recent Surfside condominium collapse, the tragic loss of life and ongoing investigation as to how and why it happened, issues that were previously shunted to the side have entered the spotlight. It is imperative to understand how vital a vigilant and attentive board is to oversee safety and address dangers as they arise.

Condominium board grappled with members about damage, urgency and repair cost

As the investigation intensifies, board members are coming forward with stories as to how repairs were needed and detailing the disputes among board members about its cost and urgency. The board president wrote in an April letter that structural concerns that were found three years ago had become far worse and needed to be repaired. Her letter alludes to some owners being reluctant to pay out for the repairs as they would have cost a minimum of $15.5 million. It suggests that the work was continually delayed due to internal politics and financial restraint.

From the time of the 2018 inspection, the cost of the repairs increased substantially as the years passed. Damage to the concrete in the garage was visible and was getting progressively worse. There was also fear as to the extent of the damage to the rebar (the reinforcing steel under a structure) and it would not be known how bad it was until repairs began in earnest. She acknowledged that the project cost would be vast, but it was necessary. Bids were taken for the work and were still being decided upon when the building collapsed. Before the collapse, the condominium association assessed the repair cost at slightly above $16.2 million and residents were complaining about it.

Condominium boards bear major responsibility for safety

Condominium boards are a commonly understated aspect of condo ownership and people might not grasp how crucial it is before it is too late. Board members should be attentive to the needs of the owners and know how to handle potential problems in an expedient manner. Having legal assistance to emphasize these points is also needed. This is not something that should be ignored amid minor disputes among people who have their own agendas and opinions. The building collapse shows how quickly a failure to handle problems can turn into a disaster with injuries, loss of life and questions as to its cause. Having professional advice from those who are experienced with condominium boards may help to prevent a repeat of the tragedy that just occurred.