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
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
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