553.71 Definitions.—As used in this part, the term:
History.—s. 2, ch. 74-167; s. 1, ch. 75-111; s. 1, ch. 77-365; s. 4, ch. 78-323; ss. 3, 4, ch. 81-7; s. 77, ch. 81-167; ss. 1, 4, ch. 82-46; s. 80, ch. 83-55; s. 8, ch. 83-160; s. 2, ch. 83-265; s. 1, ch. 84-24; s. 1, ch. 84-365; ss. 5, 6, ch. 91-172; s. 5, ch. 91-429; s. 3, ch. 93-249; s. 37, ch. 98-287; ss. 69, 70, ch. 2000-141; s. 34, ch. 2001-186; s. 3, ch. 2001-372; s. 3, ch. 2006-65; s. 58, ch. 2007-217; s. 9, ch. 2008-191; s. 413, ch. 2011-142.
553.899 Mandatory structural inspections for condominium and cooperative buildings.—
(1) The Legislature finds that maintaining the structural integrity of a building throughout its service life is of paramount importance in order to ensure that buildings are structurally sound so as to not pose a threat to the public health, safety, or welfare. As such, the Legislature finds that the imposition of a statewide structural inspection program for aging condominium and cooperative buildings in this state is necessary to ensure that such buildings are safe for continued use.
(2) As used in this section, the terms:
(a) “Milestone inspection" means a structural inspection of a building, including an inspection of load-bearing walls and the primary structural members and primary structural systems as those terms are defined in s. 627.706, by a licensed architect or engineer authorized to practice in this state for the purposes of attesting to the life safety and adequacy of the structural components of the building and, to the extent reasonably possible, determining the general structural condition of the building as it affects the safety of such building, including a determination of any necessary maintenance, repair, or replacement of any structural component of the building. The purpose of such inspection is not to determine if the condition of an existing building is in compliance with the Florida Building Code or the firesafety code.
(b) “Substantial structural deterioration" means substantial structural distress that negatively affects a building's general structural condition and integrity. The term does not include surface imperfections such as cracks, distortion, sagging, deflections, misalignment, signs of leakage, or peeling of finishes unless the licensed engineer or architect performing the phase one or phase two inspection determines that such surface imperfections are a sign of substantial structural deterioration.
(3) A condominium association under chapter 718 and a cooperative association under chapter 719 must have a milestone inspection performed for each building that is three stories or more in height by December 31 of the year in which the building reaches 30 years of age, based on the date the certificate of occupancy for the building was issued, and every 10 years thereafter. If the building is located within 3 miles of a coastline as defined in s. 376.031, the condominium association or cooperative association must have a milestone inspection performed by December 31 of the year in which the building reaches 25 years of age, based on the date the certificate of occupancy for the building was issued, and every 10 years thereafter. The condominium association or cooperative association must arrange for the milestone inspection to be performed and is responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of this section. The condominium association or cooperative association is responsible for all costs associated with the inspection. This subsection does not apply to a single family, two-family, or three-family dwelling with three or fewer habitable stories above ground.
(4) If a milestone inspection is required under this section and the building's certificate of occupancy was issued on or before July 1, 1992, the building's initial milestone inspection must be performed before December 31, 2024. If the date of issuance for the certificate of occupancy is not available, the date of issuance of the building's certificate of occupancy shall be the date of occupancy evidenced in any record of the local building official.
(5) Upon determining that a building must have a milestone inspection, the local enforcement agency must provide written notice of such required inspection to the condominium association or cooperative association by certified mail, return receipt requested.
(6) Within 180 days after receiving the written notice under subsection (5), the condominium association or cooperative association must complete phase one of the milestone inspection. For purposes of this section, completion of phase one of the milestone inspection means the licensed engineer or architect who performed the phase one inspection submitted the inspection report by e-mail, United States Postal Service, or commercial delivery service to the local enforcement agency.
(7) A milestone inspection consists of two phases:
(a) For phase one of the milestone inspection, a licensed architect or engineer authorized to practice in this state shall perform a visual examination of habitable and nonhabitable areas of a building, including the major structural components of a building, and provide a qualitative assessment of the structural conditions of the building. If the architect or engineer finds no signs of substantial structural deterioration to any building components under visual examination, phase two of the inspection, as provided in paragraph (b), is not required. An architect or engineer who completes a phase one milestone inspection shall prepare and submit an inspection report pursuant to subsection (8).
(b) A phase two of the milestone inspection must be performed if any substantial structural deterioration is identified during phase one. A phase two inspection may involve destructive or nondestructive testing at the inspector's direction. The inspection may be as extensive or as limited as necessary to fully assess areas of structural distress in order to confirm that the building is structurally sound and safe for its intended use and to recommend a program for fully assessing and repairing distressed and damaged portions of the building. When determining testing locations, the inspector must give preference to locations that are the least disruptive and most easily repairable while still being representative of the structure. An inspector who completes a phase two milestone inspection shall prepare and submit an inspection report pursuant to subsection (8).
(8) Upon completion of a phase one or phase two milestone inspection, the architect or engineer who performed the inspection must submit a sealed copy of the inspection report with a separate summary of, at minimum, the material findings and recommendations in the inspection report to the condominium association or cooperative association, and to the building official of the local government which has jurisdiction. The inspection report must, at a minimum, meet all of the following criteria:
(a) Bear the seal and signature, or the electronic signature, of the licensed engineer or architect who performed the inspection.
(b) Indicate the manner and type of inspection forming the basis for the inspection report.
(c) Identify any substantial structural deterioration, within a reasonable professional probability based on the scope of the inspection, describe the extent of such deterioration, and identify any recommended repairs for such deterioration.
(d) State whether unsafe or dangerous conditions, as those terms are defined in the Florida Building Code, were observed.
(e) Recommend any remedial or preventive repair for any items that are damaged but are not substantial structural deterioration.
(f) Identify and describe any items requiring further inspection.
(9) The association must distribute a copy of the inspector-prepared summary of the inspection report to each condominium unit owner or cooperative unit owner, regardless of the findings or recommendations in the report, by United States mail or personal delivery and by electronic transmission to unit owners who previously consented to received notice by electronic transmission; must post a copy of the inspector-prepared summary in a conspicuous place on the condominium or cooperative property; and must publish the full report and inspector prepared summary on the association's website, if the association is required to have a website.
(10) A local enforcement agency may prescribe timelines and penalties with respect to compliance with this section.
(11) A board of county commissioners may adopt an ordinance requiring that a condominium or cooperative association schedule or commence repairs for substantial structural deterioration within a specified timeframe after the local enforcement agency receives a phase two inspection report; however, such repairs must be commenced within 365 days after receiving such report. If an association fails to submit proof to the local enforcement agency that repairs have been scheduled or have commenced for substantial structural deterioration identified in a phase two inspection report within the required timeframe, the local enforcement agency must review and determine if the building is unsafe for human occupancy.