Here's why you should get involved with your condo association or HOA
With all eyes on the building collapse disaster in Surfside, Florida, experts explain how you can protect and advocate for yourself.'

Article Courtesy of  Channel 10 WTSP Tampa Bay

By Liz Crawford  

Published July 18, 2021



ST. PETERSBURG — While rescue teams continue digging for the fifth day into the rubble of the collapsed high-rise condo building in Surfside, Florida, many are asking questions about the structural safety of their own properties.

10 Tampa Bay looked into the role a condo association or homeowners' association and property management firm plays in keeping your property safe.

According to the Associated Press, owners of units in Champlain Towers South were just days away from a deadline to start making payments toward more than $9 million in major repairs that had been recommended nearly three years earlier.

Some owners were facing payments of anywhere from $80,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $330,000 or so for a penthouse, that were to be paid all at once or in installments. Their first deadline was July 1.


Tampa Bay real estate agent, Kim McNeece said costs like that are not typical. Instead, routine maintenance provided by property management associations catches issues as they occur.

"That’s the capital improvements that a condo association and a property management company usually does along the way to prevent something like that," explained McNeece.

Blair Newton is the President of Professional Bayway Management. His firm manages 100 different properties across Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. He is hired by the boards of condo associations.

Newton says issues can usually be flagged one of two ways, by either a contractor working on-site or a resident who sees something wrong.

For example, a resident might report water intrusion whereas a painter might notice a crack in the building.

Either way, it gets reported to the property management firm who advises the board of the condo association or HOA to hire an expert to evaluate or inspect the property.

Newton said, "That’s when we have to take action whether it be to contact an engineer, contact a general contractor, contact the city."

After an expert makes recommendations, it's up to the board and property management association to come up with a plan for repairs.

There is no law for routine structural inspections in Florida but Newton said other routine contractors are likely to notice a problem.

"If you’re on a regular maintenance schedule and you do bring the right people in, you should be able to avoid a major catastrophe," he said.

Both McNeece and Newton recommend involvement in your condo or homeowners' association by attending meetings and reading through minutes.

"People need to get involved in their association, they really do, if they care about their building. And I would think most people would because that’s their home and they’ve got a lot of money invested in their home. They should want to know what’s going on," said McNeece, who advises her clients to research condo associations even before they buy a property.

Boards are usually made up of volunteer residents so other residents are trusting them to make good decisions.

"The boards have a fiduciary duty, by statute to do what’s best for the association so they have to move forward based on the expert’s advice," said Newton.