BROWARD COUNTY — A Sun
Sentinel analysis shows just how far behind Broward County
cities fell on their condo safety checks in the year before
the Surfside collapse.
In its first-ever audit of its 2006 building recertification law, Broward County collected data on condominiums six stories and taller turning 40 or 50 years old in 2020. The law requires buildings to be recertified 40 years after they were built, and every 10 years after that.
The data represents just a sliver of the more than 4,100 older condo buildings in the county, but the results reinforce emerging concerns about how effective cities have been in ensuring older condos are safe.
The Sun Sentinel’s analysis of the audit data identified 70 condo buildings six stories or higher and found:
Only one in five of these buildings have been recertified as safe, based on city responses to the county survey.
Cities failed to tell at least 52 of those condos — more than two-thirds of them — that they needed to recertify last year.
More than half of the buildings, 45 of them, did not submit their engineering reports on time.
Here is the status of
the buildings in Broward County, built in 1970 and 1980,
that required engineering recertification in 2020.
About the data: Broward County’s audit sought information on buildings six stories and higher, though some cities replied with information on smaller condo buildings as well. This map includes data for all condos for which we have survey responses, providing the most complete snapshot of condo building safety in Broward County to date.
The spotty results highlight the difficulty in assessing whether the safety law is working. No one in government can be sure.
It also underscores the chaos that has permeated building departments across South Florida since Champlain Towers South collapsed.
Fort Lauderdale’s response showed at least 12 buildings that had not been notified on time, citing the pandemic. Hallandale Beach did not notify any buildings subject to the 2020 audit until this year.
Hallandale Beach City Manager Jeremy Earle said the official responsible for sending the notifications out in 2020 is no longer with the city. The city sent notices to 340 outstanding properties on June 30, the week after Champlain Tower collapsed, and another 25 on July 25. Building owners and condo associations in Hallandale have until September to complete their structural and electrical checks, and those that do not respond will be forwarded to a special magistrate for enforcement, Earle said.
Meanwhile, condo residents are in the dark.
Beatrice Balboa is among the condo residents looking for some assurance. She lives on an upper floor of the Aegean condo at 1010 S. Ocean Blvd. in Pompano Beach and wanted to know if she’s safe from the “calamitous and horrific death and destruction ... visited upon the Champlain.”
In an email to county and city officials two days after the Surfside collapse, she said she wanted assurance the 40-year inspection program “is being carried out to the letter and spirit of the entirety of promulgated code, rule, regulation, and statutory law.”
The Aegean turned 40 this year, and is undergoing the safety inspection now, city officials told her. Data from the audit shows that Pompano Beach did not notify the condo on schedule regarding recertification, and that the building had not submitted its engineering report.
Balboa said such information should be posted online for residents and prospective buyers to search.