As COVID-19 restrictions have loosened on group gatherings, many are questioning the best way to continue holding board meetings. Holding the meetings virtually has increased participation from the community, but communities are eager to meet in person again. This has led many to ask the following: Is there a way to successfully host a meeting in-person, while also broadcasting virtually?
First off, can associations continue to host board and annual meetings on virtual platforms? In short, yes. However, anyone who joins virtually must be able to participate and be heard by those attending the meeting in person. If you would like to learn more about the statute requirements, please click here to read a detailed article by Jeffrey Rembaum.
Now that it is established that your Association can continue using Zoom, or any virtual platform, here is what you will need to run a successful hybrid meeting:
Zoom account (or another virtual platform)
A laptop computer
Large TV/monitor or projector
External computer speakers
External USB Microphone
External USB camera (optional)
The first step is to log in to the Zoom meeting on the laptop. Then, place the laptop in a position where the camera fits all the board members seats within frame, so that they can be seen by Zoom participants. An external USB camera could be used for more flexibility but is not necessary.
Next, plug one end of the HDMI cord into the laptop and the other end into the monitor/TV/projector. The laptop screen should be duplicated onto the screen. This allows everyone in the room to see those attending on Zoom. If you do not have an external monitor/projector, this step is not critical as long as the Zoom participants can be heard.
You will need to make sure that the audio from the laptop can be heard in the room, for when a Zoom participant speaks. If you connected your laptop to a TV, the audio may automatically be projected from the TV. If not, you will need to plug in external speakers so that the audio can be projected in the room.
Inversely, the audio from those attending in-person needs to be heard by those who are attending virtually. To achieve the best audio for Zoom participants, consider purchasing an omnidirectional microphone for the board members. The Blue Yet Microphone is an excellent microphone to use for hybrid board meetings and is sold at most major retailers, click here to view on Best Buy for local pick up.
Test, Test, and Test Again
The setup noted above may not be the most advanced for some, as different associations may have varying technology in hand. However, this equipment is simple to set up and is accessible. No matter the equipment used, make sure to test multiple times prior to the hybrid board meeting to make sure that everything is working as it should be.
There is a lot to consider when choosing a pest control company or even keeping a pest control company. The vendor needs to accommodate the needs and ensure the health and safety of all parties, whether they are elderly, children, individuals with certain respiratory or immune disorders, allergies, etc. If you allow pets in your community, even that must be taken into consideration. It’s important for you to ensure that you have a licensed and properly insured company to handle your pest control.
For structural pest control, Florida law requires that each pest control business location must:
Be licensed by the FDACS (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services).
Carry the required insurance coverage ($250,000 per person and $500,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and $250,000 per occurrence and $500,000 in the aggregate for property damage, or a combined single limit coverage of $500,000 in the aggregate).
Employ a full-time Florida-certified operator in charge of the pest control operations of the business location. This operator must be certified in the categories in which the business operates: 1) General household pest and rodent control, 2) Termite and other wood-destroying organism’s control, and 3) Lawn and ornamental pest control, and/or fumigation.
Check to see if your pest control company is using alternative biopesticides for pest control. These are called “green” pesticides. These are non-toxic, environmentally safe solutions to pest control. Biopesticides are certain types of pesticides derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals. For example, canola oil and baking soda have pesticide applications and are considered biopesticides. There are well over 299 registered biopesticide active ingredients and 1400 active biopesticide product registrations. Biopesticides are defined by the EPA as:
Naturally occurring substances that control pests (biochemical pesticides)
Microorganisms that control pests (microbial pesticides)
Pesticide substances produced by plants containing added genetic material (plant-incorporated protectants) or PIPs.
The FLCAJ (Florida Community Association Journal) Readers’ Choice Awards give communities and board members an opportunity to select their favorite service providers. These prestigious awards recognize service providers who serve the community association industry and excel in proficiency, reliability, fairness, and integrity.
Campbell Property Management has been voted South Florida’s highest rated community association management company for the past 8 years, winning the highest level of recognition with the Diamond Award.
If you would like to cast a vote for Campbell, click here.
If you would like to cast a vote in the landscape management category for CPM (Complete Property Maintenance), click here.
To cast your vote in other categories, click here. Voting will run from now until December 31, 2021.
Just after midnight on Thursday, June 24, 2021, tragedy struck Surfside, Florida, when 55 of 136 units of the 12-story Champlain Towers South Condominium tragically crumbled to the ground. Just prior, a sleepless sixth floor owner notices a two-finger-wide separation in her drywall and, fearing the worst, scrambles downstairs as the building begins to collapse around her. Miraculously, she barely escapes. So many others were not as fortunate. Today, as this article is being written on June 27, 2021, sadly there are nine confirmed dead and over 150 persons still listed as unaccounted for.
By way of background, a prior building collapse in 1973 led Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to institute a city ordinance requiring a 40-year residential building recertification. The 40-year-recertification requirement is the absolute maximum period of time for the association to inspect the building for structural, electrical, and other critical component failure posing a threat to life safety. Champlain Towers South, built in 1981, was in the process of complying with its building recertification when disaster struck. Likely, months from now the cause will be identified. Do not be surprised if it is discovered that there were multiple causes leading to a perfect storm type of event.
When concrete is subjected to moisture, it causes the steel rebar to rust, which causes further expansion of the concrete surrounding the rebar, which ultimately, if not treated, leads to failure. This is commonly referred to as “spalling.” In addition, when concrete is exposed to moisture, it causes the concrete to separate into its constituent parts, and it will leach lime [calcium-containing inorganics]. Many condominium balconies experience concrete spalling and require repair. So, too, do the support columns and other parts of the foundation responsible to bear and pass the building load on to other structural components. What we know so far, from multiple sources, follows:
An engineering report issued on October 8, 2018, by Morabito Consultants to Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, Inc., concluded in its Structural Field Survey Report that
“[T]he waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance drive… is beyond its useful life and therefore it must be completely removed and replaced. The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially… The main issue in this building structure is that the entrance drive, pool deck and planter waterproofing is laid on a flat surface. Since the reinforced concrete slab is not sloped to drain, the water sits on the waterproofing until it evaporates. This is a major error in the development of the original contract documents prepared by the [initial architects and engineers]… It is important to note that the replacement of the existing deck waterproofing will be extremely expensive as removal of the concrete topping slab to gain access to the waterproofing membrane will take time, be disruptive, and create a major disturbance to the occupants of this condominium building. Please note that the installation of deck waterproofing on a flat structure is a systemic issue for this building structure… Regarding the parking garage consultant’s review revealed signs of distress/fatigue as described below: abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees was observed in the concrete columns, beams, and walls. Several sizable spalls were noted in both the top side of the entrance drive ramp and the underside of the pool/entrance drive/planter slabs, which included instances with exposed deteriorating rebar. Though some of the damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion… Morabito Consultants is convinced that previously installed epoxy injection repairs were ineffective in properly repairing the existing cracked and spalled concrete slabs.”
(The entire 2018 Morabito Consultants report can be found at kbrlegal.com. Click “resources” at top of the page, then click “links” from the dropdown menu.)
Reports from local and national news indicated the following information. The swimming pool built atop a parking garage was leaking for an unknown period of time into the garage area below. Ocean water often intruded into the below-grade parking structure. At least one owner on the ninth floor was experiencing repeated pipe leaks. A report from the 1990s indicated the building was sinking approximately two millimeters per year. Significant roof repairs were underway for at least one month prior to the collapse. Lime was leaching out of the concrete deck causing damage to the cars in the parking garage below. Just south of the Champlain Towers South Condominium, a new building was being constructed that caused residents of the Champlain Towers South Condominium to complain about the constant shaking of their condominium building caused by blasting and digging activity. The concrete waterproofing associated with the foundation was failing as noted in the 2018 engineering report. Naturally, all of this combined could eventually lead to a weakened overall support structure.
Based on this information, ask yourself this important question: Was the Champlain Towers South Condominium collapse foreseeable? While some people, most especially with the benefit of hindsight, may believe that to be the case, bear in mind that there are also reports that the board had meetings with City of Surfside officials after the 2018 Morabito Consultants report was issued. If so, this may be very telling and bear on the board’s decision-making process. Details of such meetings are not presently known. Are there other engineering reports not yet discovered that bear on this issue? All of this may be very telling and bear on the board’s decision-making process. In any event, it is too early to reach conclusions.
Notwithstanding this horrible tragedy, there are interim lessons that can be gleaned from this disaster that every board member and manager of a high-rise condominium should heed, as follows:
If your county does not have a 40-year-recertification requirement, and even if it does, obtain a recertification engineering report every 25 to 40 years, anyway. Remember that the 40-year requirement set out in the Miami-Dade and Broward ordinances is a maximum period that the association can go without having complied with the re-certification process. The 40 years is not a minimum, meaning an association can certainly have the recertification-type studies performed as often as reasonably necessary under the circumstances.
When it comes to building maintenance and repairs that are life-safety recommendations, should the association’s retained engineering expert make recommendations regarding the building’s foundation, implement them in a timely manner. Do not consider making temporary patch repairs in lieu of proper repair. In other words, do not be penny wise and pound foolish. Do not let the need to obtain unit owner votes to either approve the work and/or the needed assessments or loans to fund the project be a factor in any way. There is a long line of Florida appellate case law that supports the board’s right to effectuate repairs and take out loans when necessary for protection of life and property. Your association’s attorney will be a necessary component of this process to provide legal opinions based on the controlling appellate cases.
Fund the reserves appropriately and make sure the association has a specific reserve for concrete repair and restoration. If the association is pooling reserves, be sure to include concrete repairs in the pooled reserve. Do not even consider waiving or reducing reserves until a considerable nest egg is saved up.
Update the association’s reserve schedules at least every five years. It should be based on empirical and objective evidence.
Do not be afraid or otherwise hesitant to special assess the membership for required maintenance and repairs. Remember, the units have more financial value when the building is properly maintained.
Oddly, Florida Statutes have three significant failures that could help prevent a residential building collapse similar to the Champlain Towers South Condominium.
The relevant statutes do not specifically require condominium associations to have a concrete restoration reserve though it should be easily included as a required reserve pursuant to “catch all” language set out in §718.112 (2)(f)(2), Florida Statutes (see below).
Despite what you may hear on the news, there is not a statewide mandatory residential building recertification required after a certain number of years.
There is no statutory requirement to have a reserve study or engineering study performed on a regular basis.
Regarding reserves, §718.112 (2)(f)(2), Florida Statutes (2020), provides, in relevant part, that
In addition to annual operating expenses, the budget must include reserve accounts for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance. These accounts must include, but are not limited to, roof replacement, building painting, and pavement resurfacing, regardless of the amount of deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost, and any other item that has a deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost that exceeds $10,000. The amount to be reserved must be computed using a formula based upon estimated remaining useful life and estimated replacement cost or deferred maintenance expense of each reserve item. The association may adjust replacement reserve assessments annually to take into account any changes in estimates or extension of the useful life of a reserve item caused by deferred maintenance. [Emphasis added.]
Remember, too, the board is absolutely required to pass the budget each year with reserves fully funded. Only then can the board decide to present to the owners the opportunity to waive or reduce reserves. Ask yourself, are our condominium association’s reserves properly funded?
As a result of this horrific tragedy, the 2022 Florida Legislature should consider requiring a recertification engineering report for all high-rise residential condominiums every 30 years or so and should require all community associations to update the reserve schedules at least once every five years.
Also remember that each board member should exercise his or her own individual reasonable business judgment when rendering decisions, except for the purchase of insurance, where the much higher standard of “best efforts” is applied as required by §718.111(11), Florida Statutes (2020). With the reasonable business judgment standard in mind, ignoring advice of engineers and other requisite professionals could be considered by others to be negligent or even rise to a reckless act or an omission conducted with bad faith, with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property, any one of which can lead to exposure to liability. But, if the association received two different reports where the opinions drastically differ, then in that situation, each board member should use his or her reasonable business judgment to decide which report should be relied upon. The fact the board chose to follow one expert’s guidance over the other, whose guidance turned out in the end to be wrong, is not too likely to result in an award for damages as a result of legal challenge.
If you live in a high-rise condominium and are fearful of collapse due to the Champlain Towers South Condominium tragedy, please remember that this building’s failure was certainly not an everyday occurrence and is best described, for the time being, as a tragic anomaly.
(Reprinted with permission from the August 2021 edition of the Florida Community Association Journal)
Jeffrey Rembaum’s, Esq. of Kaye, Bender, Rembaum attorneys at law, legal practice consists of representation of condominium, homeowner, commercial and mobile home park associations, as well as exclusive country club communities and the developers who build them. Mr. Rembaum is a Certified Specialist in Condominium and Planned Development Law. He is the creator of ‘Rembaum’s Association Roundup’, an e-magazine devoted to the education of community association board members, managers, developers and anyone involved with Florida’s community associations. His column appears monthly in the Florida Community Association Journal. Every year since 2012, Mr. Rembaum has been selected to the Florida Super Lawyers list and was also named Legal Elite by Florida Trends Magazine. He can be reached at 561-241-4462.
A recent update to the State of Florida Elevator Code requires that all existing elevators “must be in compliance with part 3.10.12 of ASME A17.3-2015, Safety Code for Existing Elevators and Escalators by December 31, 2023”.
Simply put, beginning January 1, 2024, all elevators must have a door-lock monitoring (DLM) system which keeps the elevator locked in place until the doors are completely closed. This system ensures the safety of the passengers aboard the elevator. This requirement became effective for all new elevators built after the code was published in the year 2000.
The update to this code now requires that all elevators in operation, even those built prior to the 2000 change must be brought up to code.
How do you know if your elevator is up to code?
If your elevators were installed or modernized:
Before 2000 – will likely need to update the elevator control system to meet the safety requirements.
Between 2000 and 2009 – will likely need to complete a software update and potentially a hardware update to be compliant. Elevators with SS# 59628 or higher or that were modernized after 10/4/2000 should be equipped with the required door lock monitoring.
After 2009 – Are likely in compliance. However, the elevators need to be reviewed to confirm that the monitoring system is turned on.
Regardless of the date ranges above, each elevator should be inspected by a certified elevator contractor to ensure that it follows the code.
If your elevators do not contain the DLM systems, expect to incur costs of $10,000 to $12,000 per elevator. This cost is for bringing the elevator up to code and does not prolong the lifespan of the elevator. If there is a plan to upgrade within the next couple of years, it may make sense to modernize now rather than pay for the DLM system.
It is important to note that any changes made to elevators to meet the monitoring lock code will require a permit from the DBPR Bureau of Elevator Safety.
For assistance on this and to ensure upcoming code compliance, please reach out to your property management company and certified elevator contractor.
At Campbell, we know that the Property Manager needs to keep managing when major projects come up. Rick Wood is a dedicated Project Manager and a company-wide resource assisting Campbell communities with large projects that may need extra help. Rick can be reached at RWood@campbellproperty.com.
There are many things to consider when preparing for budget season. Here are some steps that may assist your Board in the process:
Don’t delay – Start the process as early as possible so that you don’t miss items that could significantly impact your budget. Now is the perfect time to start preparations if your budget starts January 1.
It is a monotonous task, but a vital one. In this day and age, assessments will more than likely have to increase due to increases in insurance, utilities, and that never ending “wish list.” Have a budget plan. Look at the goals for the community. What does the Board want to achieve?
Review past budgets and the final year performance. If you overspent more years than not, obviously you need to make some changes.
Pet projects don’t always make the cut. Be realistic about what can be achieved.
Go over all contracts. You should have a spreadsheet of all contracts with expiration dates, whether they are auto renewed unless you send a cancellation notice, what is the cancellation timeline, does auto-renew have an increase and how much.
Ensure you are funding enough for your reserves.
Get a Reserve Study, or at least an updated Reserve Study to ensure you have accurate numbers.
Have a well-funded maintenance program. The disasters of the recent past is an indication of just how important it is to keep up even the most mundane maintenance. Proper maintenance may help delay some of the replacement items in your reserve study.
We recently held an educational webinar with Michael Kassower from Frank Weinberg Black and Ben Messerschmidt from EPIC Forensics & Engineering to answer your questions on condo repair and restoration projects.
Our recent article titled “Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Condominiums” by Dan Tiernan was featured in the recent issue of the Florida Community Association Journal (FLCAJ). Each month, the Florida Community Association Professionals (FCAP) releases FLCAJ. This magazine contains news and features articles dealing with areas of interest to managers and board members and has earned the reputation of being the industry’s most authoritative voice.
“Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Condominiums” discusses the increasing trend of EV sales in the United States and how to prepare your condominium for the installation of charging stations.
Here is a link to read the article on FLCAJ’s page: Click Here
To view the SlideShare version of the article, please Click Here.
To view the SlideShare in a video format on YouTube, please Click Here.