What to do about fire sprinkler retrofitting.

A 2010 amendment to Florida Statute 718.112 (2)(l)(1) made the fire sprinkler retrofit requirement arguably applicable to all condos. The statute was initially only applicable to high rise condos. When the statute was amended, the words “high rise” were removed. Thus, the language of the statute appears to cover all condos, even though many feel that the statute should only apply to high rises. Although several groups have sought clarification from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), DBPR has yet to give a definitive opinion stating that the statute will only be enforced against high rise condos. So, what do you do?

Until there is some further guidance, it would be wise to consult your association attorney to determine whether your association should hold an opt-out vote. Section 718(2)(l)(1) gives condo associations the opportunity to opt-out of fire sprinkler retrofitting, if the members of the association vote to do so. The deadline to opt-out is December 31, 2016. If you fail to hold the vote, and the statute is interpreted as being applicable to all condos, the association may be in for a big expense and you may be hearing from some very unhappy homeowners. Thus, to be sure you are protected and will not be subject to retrofitting, your attorney may advise to have the members vote to opt out, and to document their decision.

TO AVOID HAVING TO RETROFIT WITH FIRE SPRINKLERS, A CONDO ASSOCIATION MUST OPT OUT BY 12/31/2016. There needs to be membership meeting, notice of the membership meeting must be mailed to all owners, the owners must vote to opt out, the results must be recorded in the public records, and notice of the results of the opt out vote must be delivered to all owners. A portion of the statute has been set out below, but, again, we suggest that an attorney be consulted regarding your association’s particular needs, 718(2)(l)1. A vote to forego retrofitting may be obtained by limited proxy or by a ballot personally cast at a duly called membership meeting, or by execution of a written consent by the member, and is effective upon recording a certificate attesting to such vote in the public records of the county where the condominium is located. The association shall mail or hand deliver to each unit owner written notice at least 14 days before the membership meeting in which the vote to forego retrofitting of the required fire sprinkler system is to take place. Within 30 days after the association’s opt-out vote, notice of the results of the opt-out vote must be mailed or hand delivered to all unit owners. Evidence of compliance with this notice requirement must be made by affidavit executed by the person providing the notice and filed among the official records of the association. After notice is provided to each owner, a copy must be provided by the current owner to a new owner before closing and by a unit owner to a renter before signing a lease.

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