What has changed in Florida since the Surfside condo collapse?

Published: June 24, 2022 2:33 PM EDT
Updated: June 24, 2022 5:11 PM EDT

When the Champlain Towers South building fell in the middle of the night on June 24, 2021, people living in high-rises across the state began to question their safety.

A year later, the cause of the collapse that killed 98 people is still unknown.

After initially failing to take action, the Florida legislature passed a law on high-rise inspections during a special session.

How does this bill impact condos moving forward?

Like the beach and endless sunshine are essential Florida staples, 
so are condos.

Surfside is in State Sen. Jason Pizzo’s district, and he lives in a condo with his family.

“It took the loss of 98 precious souls for everybody to understand the state has a compelling interest to ensure people are safe. It took that long, and here we are,” 
Pizzo said.

There are 1.5 million condos in Florida, according to a state analysis.

More than 912 thousand of them are older than 30 years.

The Champlain Towers South was 40 years old and in the middle of a 40-year safety recertification process when it collapsed.

Pizzo calls it a wake-up call.

FILE – In this June 25, 2021 file photo, rescue personnel work at the remains of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla. A tentative deal was announced Friday, Feb. 11, 2022 that would pay $83 million to people who lost condominium units and personal property in the collapse of a Florida building that killed 98 people. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Before the new law, only Miami-Dade and Broward counties had recertification processes to make sure condo buildings were safe.

The new condo safety law is statewide and requires recertification after 30 years, or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles of the coast.

After that, every 10 years.

Condo associations also have to put money aside for major repairs and a study every 10 years.

They have to give the inspection reports to condo owners and if any repairs are needed, they have to get to work within a year of the report.

State Sen. Jennifer Bradley said, “Every aging building in the state of Florida has a professional going in to make sure that it is safe for its intended use, which is for families to live.”

But again, the law only applies to buildings three stories or taller. And apartment buildings are not included, no matter how big or small.

Are there enough inspectors to handle the workload?

State Sen. Lauren Book said, 
”Is it a perfect product? Is it a completed product? It is not a perfect product, and we are going to continue to work on this.”

But it is a step to keeping families safe.

“We look down the road, and if we look down 10 years,” Bradley said. “I think that the financial health of condos will be a much different place because of this bill and because of market forces pushing us there.”