Governor Ron DeSantis should immediately empanel a special task force of experts to examine the tragic Surfside condominium building collapse and recommend reforms intended to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again. That is the recommendation of Sachs Sax Caplan, one of the nation’s most experienced and respected law firms in the area of condominium law.
The special task force would include engineers, architects, building contractors, and other industry experts to make recommendations to the Governor, Florida Legislature, and state regulatory agencies in advance of the January 2022 session of the Legislature. The focus should be to develop policy changes that help establish a uniform statewide standard for building inspections and re-inspections, with the overarching goal of protecting life and safety. The group could also make specific suggestions to ensure that existing condominium buildings are safe across the state and that current and future structures maintain the highest safety standards and structural integrity.
“Our hearts go out to all the victims of the Surfside collapse and their loved ones. This horrific tragedy is a red flag warning for all high-rise condominiums, apartments, and commercial buildings – not just those along the coast,” said Louis Caplan, a founding partner of the law firm. “The condition of aging buildings is a statewide problem, and it demands careful examination by a panel of experts who can make comprehensive recommendations at the state level.”
Since the June 24 collapse of Champlain Towers South in the Miami-Dade County town of Surfside, scores of questions are being raised, including the cause of the collapse, how to determine if other condo/high-rise buildings are at risk, whether building inspection laws and standards should be uniform statewide, and what steps condo associations should take to ensure that their buildings are safe.
Caplan and fellow founding partner Peter S. Sachs are urging the Governor to act quickly to create the task force and appoint members with a relevant range of professional expertise. Areas to scrutinize could include building materials, the frequency of inspections, and new mandatory disclosure requirements between condo associations and prospective unit buyers.
“The State of Florida inspects everything from elevators to gas pumps to ensure public safety, and we should similarly have statewide standards for buildings where hundreds, or even thousands, of people live or work,” said Sachs, who helped draft Florida’s original condominium laws in the mid-1970s.
Caplan said such important matters of public safety should not be left only to volunteer members of individual condominium associations, who make significant contributions to their communities but who typically lack the level of expertise necessary to assess the need for structural repairs.
“Condominium boards are willing to spend whatever is necessary to protect their residents. The focus should be not on what it costs, but rather what it saves – lives,” he said.
Since its founding more than 35 years ago, Sachs Sax Caplan has built an impeccable and well-deserved reputation as one of Florida’s top law firms, providing clients with exceptional legal representation in multiple practice areas. Its pioneering work in condominium and community association law has led to landmark changes that have shaped Florida community association law and established the firm as one of the foremost authorities in the field.