Board members and managers in resident-owned condominiums and cooperatives may recall that tucked away in Chapters 718 and 719 of the Florida Statutes are several provisions that require associations to "retrofit" their "common areas" with handrails or guardrails and fire sprinkler systems or other "engineered life safety" systems.   The statutes provide that these retrofitting requirements may be waived by the members of associations where the common areas are not in a "high rise building," which is defined as "a building that is greater than 75 feet in height where the building height is measured from the lowest level of fire department access to the floor of the highest occupiable story".

ROC board members should note that even if a community does not have a "high-rise building" the members must still waive the retrofitting requirements.   The voting procedures differ for the waiver of the two different types of retrofitting:

  • Florida Statutes Sections 719.1055(5) and 718.112(2)(l) allow for limited proxies, ballots personally cast at a duly called meeting of the members, or a member’s written consent to be used in a vote to waive the requirement to retrofit a fire sprinkler system or other engineered life safety system.
  • However, according to Florida Statutes Sections 719.1055(6) and 718.1085(1), neither limited nor general proxies can be used for a vote to forego retrofitting for handrails or guardrails.  This vote must be made in person at a duly called membership meeting or by execution of a written consent by that member.

The decisions to waive or forego these retrofitting requirements become effective upon the recording of a certificate attesting to such vote in the county where the ROC is located.  The association also must notify the members of the decision to forego retrofitting after the vote–within 30 days after the vote to waive the sprinkler system retrofitting and within 20 days after the vote to forego the handrail retrofitting.

Since the statutes provide that the local authorities that would have jurisdiction over the community buildings cannot require retrofitting of the common areas until the end of 2014, ROCs still have a few years to plan and schedule the membership meeting where these votes will occur.  

Just something to keep in mind during the "off season".