After the tragic collapse of Champlain Tower South Condominium Association in Surfside, Florida, there have been many concerns expressed by residents about the safety of their own communities and many residents and owners are reaching out about how to protect their buildings. While the exact cause of the collapse is still unknown, condominium residents across North America must await the results of a thorough investigation.
The Community Associations Institute (CAI) has been providing information and resources to communities throughout the U.S. concerning building maintenance, structural integrity, and reserve funds. CAI is doing its part to make sure that this never happens again.
In general terms, there are best practices, building and safety codes that should always be followed to ensure all condominium properties are checked for structural and safety issues including building envelope, elevators, roofs, fire, water, etc.
In a recent post on CAI’s Advocacy Blog, Dawn Bauman, V.P. of Government and Public Affairs for CAI, in speaking to managers, residents, and board members to find solutions, recommends steps for both residents and board members to take to deal with the concerns about their communities.
Questions for residents to pose to their managers and board members:
- Is our building safe?
- What is being done to protect our health, safety, and investment?
- Does our community have a reserve study to plan for the repair and replacement of major components of our building? When was this reserve study last updated?
- Does our community have a plan to fund the repair and replacement of major components owned by the community?
- Does our building need an inspection by a professional engineer to evaluate the structural integrity of the building?
- Are critical components in the building such as structure, balconies, stairwells, etc., included in the reserve study?
- Will a special assessment be required to fund the repair and replacement of any components that are not included in the reserve study?
What should owners do to protect themselves and their investment:
- Know your rights and responsibilities as an owner.
- Attend owners’ meetings, including information meetings.
- Read communication from your community.
- Ask questions and participate in your community meetings and events.
- Regularly pay common expenses.
- If a special assessment or loan is required to fund major repairs that may not have been anticipated, investigate, gather information but work with your board and not against your board.
Steps that board members can take to ensure their communities are 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 fund study.
- Review your reserve funding plan and fund accordingly.
- Have a conversation with your unit owners about reserve study/plan/schedule and funding.
- Take actions required in the reserve fund plan.
- Maintain frequent communication with residents/unit owners about these important issues.
- Be transparent with unit owners about how much repairs might cost and whether a special assessment or borrowing may be necessary
The contents of this blog post are general in nature, for information purposes and are not exhaustive. Please consult legal counsel.