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Florida lawmakers pass condo safety changes

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TALLAHASSEE - The state's Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that would revise a condominium-safety law that stemmed from the deadly June 2021 collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside.

Senators unanimously passed the bill a day after the House approved it. It will now go to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Last year, the Legislature passed a law that dealt with issues such as condominium-building inspections and condominium-association financial reserves. But legislators said they were inundated by concerns from condominium residents about potential financial ramifications of the law.

"These constituents were truly concerned about losing their home," said Rep. Kim Berfield, R-Clearwater.

The bill would make a series of changes to try to address the concerns.

For example, it would revise requirements related to what are known as "milestone" inspections for condominium buildings three stories or higher.

Under last year's law, inspections are required for buildings that have been occupied for 30 years - or 25 years if the buildings are within three miles of a coastline. After initial inspections, the buildings have to go through the process every 10 years.

The bill would ease that somewhat, allowing buildings within three miles of the coastline to be inspected after they have been occupied for 30 years. It would allow local officials to require the inspections after 25 years of occupancy depending on "local circumstances, including environmental conditions such as proximity to salt water."

Also, the bill would allow local officials to extend inspection deadlines if building owners have entered into contracts with architects or engineers but the inspections cannot be finished in time.

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