WHY IS THE DIVISION OF CONDOMINIUMS BEING SO DIFFICULT?

By Eric Glazer, Esq.

Published December 5, 2016 

    

All of you who live in a condominium are now certainly aware that by December 31st, if your building is 75 feet or higher, you will be required to install a fire sprinkler system in your condominium, unless the unit owners vote to opt out. Many of you have already done so.

A few weeks ago, I wrote in my blog that you need not worry about opting out if your building is not 75 feet or taller, because there is absolutely no law in The State of Florida that requires buildings under 75 feet to install a fire sprinkler system.

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of speaking with Karl Thompson, Chief Engineer, Bureau of Fire Prevention, Division of State Fire Marshal. He confirmed in no uncertain terms that if youíre under 75 feet ----- THERE IS NOTHING TO OPT OUT OF. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO INSTALL FIRE SPRINKLERS. HOW DO YOU VOTE TO OPT OUT OF SOMETHING THAT YOUíRE NOT REQUIRED TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE! He also confirmed that NO FIRE INSPECTOR IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA CAN CITE A CONDOMINIUM THAT IS LESS THAN 75 FEET FOR FAILURE TO HAVE SPRINKLERS.

You would think that when the stateís Fire Marshall gives an interpretation of Floridaís fire prevention laws, that would be the end of it right? Wrong. Apparently, the Division of Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes knows the fire laws better than the experts paid to enforce them. The Division still refuses to take the position that condominiums under 75 feet tall do not have to opt out. They believe the condominium statute does not specifically state that buildings under 75 are automatically exempt.

I respond by saying: WHO CARES WHAT YOU THINK THE FLORIDA CONDOMINIUM STATUTE REQUIRES WHEN IT COMES TO FIRE SAFETY? You know for sure and for certain that there is no law in Florida that requires condominiums less than 75 feet to install fire sprinklers. Why canít you simply take that position? What business do you have attempting to enforce the fire code? Stick to condominiums and let the fire experts deal with fire.

 

So, because the Division has stuck its neck into business it should not be involved in, smaller condominiums are freaking out, thinking they still have to opt out, even when our state fire officials say they do not. Letís take this to its potential conclusion and say that a two story 30 foot condo does not opt out by December 31st. Does anyone really believe that on January 1st, the Division can require a condominium to install a fire sprinkler system? I would like to see them try. The bottom line is that they canít because the Division does not enforce the fire code.

It gets worse. The State Senator who drafted the legislation at issue has informed the Division that the intent of the law was never to require buildings less than 75 feet to opt out. Not even that is good enough for the Division. So in the mean time, smaller condominiums that can least afford it are running scared and believe they have to pay an attorney to draft the necessary opt out documents. They donít.

This is part of the reason why there are many, who if given the chance would vote to ďopt outĒ of regulation by the Division of Condominiums and the DBPR. Hey Tallahassee, how about doing the right thing here and retracting your position?


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About HOA & Condo Blog

Eric Glazer Eric Glazer graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1992 after receiving a B.A. from NYU. He has practiced community association law for more than 2

decades and is the owner of Glazer and Associates, P.A. a seven attorney law firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and satellite offices in Naples, Fort Myers and Tampa.

 

Since 2009, Eric has been the host of Condo Craze and HOAs, a weekly one hour radio show that airs at noon each Sunday on 850 WFTL.

   

See: www.condocrazeandhoas.com.

   

He is the first attorney in the State of Florida that designed a course that certifies condominium residents as eligible to serve on a condominium Board of Directors and has now certified more than 10,000 Floridians all across the state. He is certified as a Circuit Court Mediator by The Florida Supreme Court and has mediated dozens of disputes between associations and unit owners. Eric also devotes significant time to advancing legislation in the best interest of Florida community association members.


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