JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond has introduced a bill that would impose new mandatory building inspections for Jacksonville in the wake of the Surfside building collapse last year that killed 98 people.
Bill 2022-842 would require all condominium or co-op buildings over three stories tall and more than 25 years old to be inspected immediately. The “Milestone Inspection Bill” would also require more frequent and more stringent inspections. According to a news release Monday from Diamond’s office, “any structures that are determined to be unsafe for habitation must be immediately reported to the building owners, the City, the Fire Marshall and the Chief of Code.”
“We’re talking anything in the city of Jacksonville, that is as condo or co-op, and that’s over 3 stories, and you’ll see those all over Jacksonville, there are a lot of midrange buildings that will qualify,” Diamond told News4JAX.
Diamond said the new bill was filed in response to legislation that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law in May. Under SB 4-D, Florida will require statewide recertification of condominiums over three stories tall. Recertification will be required after 30 years, or 25 years if the building is within 3 miles of the coast, and every 10 years thereafter. The Champlain Towers South was 40 years old and was going through the 40-year-recertification process required by Miami-Dade County when the condominium building collapsed in June 2021.
“The important thing is that what happened in Surfside is preventable,” Diamond said. “Had it been properly inspected and properly fixed, a lot of people would be alive. We don’t want to see that happen here in Jacksonville.”
There are more than 1.5 million condominium units in Florida operated by nearly 28,000 associations, according to a legislative analysis conducted earlier this year. Of those, more than 912,000 are older than 30 years and are the home to more than 2 million residents.
Most of the provisions of the law will take effect in 2024.
The state law will also require that condominium associations have sufficient reserves to pay for major repairs and conduct a study of the reserves every decade. It would also require condominium associations to provide inspection reports to owners, and if structural repairs are needed, work must begin within a year of the report.
The news release from Diamond’s office states that his bill was introduced on Nov. 9 and will be taken up for action by the Neighborhoods and Land Use and Zoning committees. It could be ready for full council approval on Dec. 13.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.