Miami-Area Condo Collapse Sparks Calls for Tighter Laws – The Wall Street Journal

SURFSIDE, Fla.—Florida lawmakers are preparing a raft of proposals to increase regulation of the condo industry, including more-frequent inspections, in the wake of June’s deadly building collapse in the Miami area.

Legislators return to Tallahassee in September for meetings ahead of their regular session in January, but lawmakers from both parties are already calling for changes. Ideas range from adopting a statewide inspection requirement to mandating that condominium owners set aside financial reserves for future repairs, according to people involved in the discussions.

Many say the sense of urgency echoes other devastating events in Florida, including Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which brought broad upgrades to building standards, and the 2018 Parkland school shooting, which led to gun restrictions once considered untouchable in the Republican-controlled capital.

“The moment to fix some of these things that have been worrisome for years is now,” said Rep. Joe Geller, a Democrat whose district includes Surfside. “If that happens, the tragedy is no less, but it would be something if we can say to the survivors, the families, that we learned from this.”

Investigators are still looking into what caused the Surfside condo to collapse in the predawn hours of June 24, and it could take years for a definitive answer. As of Friday evening, the death toll stood at 79, with 61 people unaccounted for. The president of the Champlain Towers South condo association told residents in an April letter that their building was in desperate disrepair and urged them to pay $15 million in assessments. The condo association had just over $700,000 in reserves, the letter indicated.