Expect more mandatory condominium evacuations

The collapse of Florida’s Champlain Towers South in 2021 has ignited a surge in condominium inspections by government agencies — especially along the east coast. As inspections take place, many are found to be in dire need of repairs to ensure structural safety.

Mandatory evacuations are taking place

For some condo buildings, mandatory evacuations are taking place. Recently, the engineering report of a South Florida condominium noted “serious concerns” which led to the occurrence of one such evacuation.

The story can be found here:

These evacuations can be a traumatic experience for those affected, as residents may be forced to leave their units, and leave behind their belongings — and the date they can return to their residences may be up-in-the-air (pardon the pun).

Many buildings are aging, and the cost of repairs — especially for multi-story and high-rise buildings — is typically significant. Boards who cut corners, delay repairs, or ignore problems, are essentially choosing to put their residents at risk.

Significant liability — legally and financially.

As more condominiums are inspected, we may see even more mandatory evacuations. It is essential condominium boards take responsibility for ensuring their buildings are safe, and they maintain a clear path to keep it that way for future boards. Failure to do so not only puts lives at risk, but can result in significant liability — legally and financially. By addressing structural and engineering concerns in a proper and timely manner, boards can ensure safety and financial stability for the unit owners and residents.

– Raymond Dickey

Note from Sinisa Kolar, P.E., FBRSE (Falcon Engineering):

“It should be noted that Florida legislation introduced a new law last year (SB-4) that mandates regular inspections of the condominiums three story of higher (starting at 25 years of age for some properties) as well as mandatory structural reserve studies to ensure building have sufficient funds for possible repairs. That law is currently going through some minor revisions, but the intent of the law will remain. Therefore, considering the impact of the Champlain Tower South collapse, the buildings should not expect any leniency from the Building department (if there was ever one) in addressing any of the structural issues on the building. Additionally, the Engineers will require more detailed evaluations to ensure they are covering every reasonable aspect of the property’s structural condition. Now more than ever (although this should have been the case always) the timely, regular and complete maintenance of the property is the most critical component in ensuring structural stability of the existing properties as well as avoiding costly and lengthy structural repairs, or in extreme cases building evacuations.”

Sinisa Kolar, P.E., FBRSE (SKolar@thefalcongroup.us)