According to the Tampa Bay Times, only about 10% of the 1,861 bills filed during the 2019 legislative session passed. This was slightly fewer than last year and the lowest number of bills passed in Florida in twenty years.
For homeowners’ and community associations, the session was a busy one, with at least eight separate subjects making it to the bill stage, including related House and Senate bills that would have significantly changed Chapter 558, Florida’s “Notice and Opportunity to Repair” construction defect statute. Ultimately only one bill, House Bill 7103, was passed by both houses and sent to Governor DeSantis for consideration.
In what began primarily as a property development and affordable housing bill, a late amendment to HB 7103 delays the date by which high-rise condominium buildings (basically a condominium building greater than 75 feet in height) must retrofit either an automatic fire sprinkler system or an engineered life safety system (ELSS) in compliance with the Florida Fire Prevention Code. However, HB 7103 includes an exception under which the unit owners may vote to forego the retrofitting process by the affirmative vote of a majority of all voting interests in the affected condominium. An exception also applies to residential condominiums that qualify as “housing for older persons.”
Also of note, HB 7103 requires the State Fire Marshal to issue a report by city and county identifying high-rise condominiums which have not retrofitted with the required fire sprinkler system or ELSS. All local fire officials will be required to provide the data to the State Fire Marshal. The report must be submitted to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House by September 1, 2020.
Another section of HB 7103 amends existing state law regarding plans review and inspection. These provisions will be discussed in an upcoming blog.