Proposed Legislation Could Provide Funding for Special Assessments
U.S. Representatives Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) recently introduced the Securing Access to Finance Exterior Repairs (SAFER) in Condos Act of 2022 (H.R. 7532). The legislation would allow condo owners to finance special assessments with loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
But, if enacted, the law might not provide the sweeping relief needed as associations struggle to tackle deferred maintenance and repairs in the wake of the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside, Fla.
After the collapse, it was widely reported that the members of the condo association were asked to pay special assessments ranging from $80,000 to $200,000. Many of them refused to pony up.
The situation was — and is — hardly unique to Champlain Towers. “There’s a significant problem with old buildings, deteriorating buildings, and poorly constructed buildings,” says Alan Garfinkel, founding partner of Garfinkel Law, a full-service community association law firm in Florida.
“Foreseeable events like the 98 people who lost their lives in Surfside could happen again.”
It’s unusual for legislation directly affecting community associations to pop up at the federal level. In this case, though, it might make sense.
“Logically, it’d be great for everyone to have the same playing field, rather than piecemealing it from state to state,” says David Wilson, an attorney with Black, Slaughter & Black, P.A., which works with community associations in North and South Carolina. “In some states, you’ll never be able to pass what’s necessary.”
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