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Understanding the 40-year building recertification when buying a condo in Miami

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Buying a condo in Miami is an exciting investment opportunity, but make sure you know about the 40-year recertification program. Buildings with more than 2,000 square feet are subject to this initial certification after being built for four decades and then every ten years afterward as part of ongoing maintenance and safety improvements. In this post, we'll dive deeper into what the recertification program entails, its importance, and how it may impact condo owners and buyers.



In this article:


Updates to condo recertification in Miami in 2023: What to expect

Following the Surfside tragedy, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 4D, implementing reforms for Miami's high-rise condominiums in 2023, including more frequent inspections, milestone inspections, higher association fees, and structural reserve studies. Condo associations must file annual reports with required documents, and buyers can access important information before signing a contract. While these changes may increase expenses for owners, buyers, and renters, they aim to create safer homes in Miami.




History of the recertification

Miami developed the 40-Year Recertification Program in the mid-1970s after a partial building collapse claimed the lives of seven DEA agents on August 5th, 1974. The collapse sparked an investigation, and inspectors determined that inferior construction materials used by the contractor played a role in the tragic incident.

County officials studied the structure collapse and found that the unique South Florida environment challenged their findings. The following results, but not limited to, were found to cause damage to buildings.

  • Saltwater

  • Humid air

  • Strong winds


Miami-Dade County was the first county to require recertification for 40+-year-old buildings; Fort Lauderdale followed years after.



What's the process for scheduling the recertification?

The association or property manager will receive a Notice of Required Recertification of 40-Year Old Building notice from the county. The building will have 90 days to hire a structural engineer to inspect the building and submit the report. If any repairs are needed, the condo association will have 180 days to complete the work. The structural engineer will verify, and another report will verify that the repair work has been completed.


Suppose the county does not issue a notice. In that case, it is still the property owner's responsibility to complete the initial 40-year inspection and recertify the building every ten years.



What happens if a building doesn't complete the recertification?

Suppose the building needs to submit the recertification report. In that case, it will result in a Civil Violation notice which can be a fine of up to $10,510 plus the costs incurred by the department. Even further, the building may be vacated. The building may have to be demolished.



What's inspected?

The inspection aims to ensure that the building is safe for occupancy. The inspection will help determine the condition of the building's structure and electrical systems. The following may be inspected:


Structural inspection

  • Foundation

  • Roofing systems

  • Masonry bearing walls

  • Steel framing system

  • Floor and roof systems

  • Concrete framing systems

  • Windows

  • Wood framing

  • Loading

Electrical Inspection

  • Electric service

  • Branch circuits

  • Conduit raceways

  • Emergency lighting


To get an in-depth understanding of what is inspected, check out this PDF from miamidade.gov



How to find out if a building has completed the recertification?

When shopping for a condo, you must ask your real estate agent to inquire about the recertification. Sometimes this information is provided in the listing. Still, getting this information from the building's association or property management company hired by the association is best. You may also search public records by visiting this site and searching the condo's name.


Conclusion

It is essential to be aware of this program, especially for buyers looking at condos in Miami, subject to the 40-year recertification. The 40-year recertification program is a way for buildings to ensure their properties remain safe and up to code. Miami condominiums are attractive investment opportunities; you should know what's involved in this certification process.

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