Lawmakers aim to ease rising condo costs, increase state oversight of HOAs in new proposals
A pair of bills proposed by lawmakers this session could offer some relief to condo owners seeing rising monthly fees.

Article Courtesy of Local Channel 10 Tampa Bay

By Aaron Parseghian
Published January 21, 2023


TALLAHASSEE — As condominium owners across the state voice their concerns over seeing rising monthly fees, new proposals in Tallahassee are aiming to help.

“Our COA has actually doubled over the last five years,” Anne Marie Riedel, a board president for a small condo association in south St. Petersburg, said.

“Unfortunately, we have three units that will be going on the market because they feel that that the increase is just too much,” Riedel added.

Riedel says rising property insurance rates and a lack of options for insurers are causing the rise.

But insurance is not the only driving factor — a new state law and safety regulations put in place following the 2021 Surfside Condo collapse are also playing a role. The law requires condo associations to have fully funded reserves in place to make any necessary repairs.

Associations have to have that money set aside by the end of the year, and while trying to make up ground were forced to raise HOA or COAs to make up the difference. Riedel says her association was about 68% funded entering this year.

“Those were the two primary driving factors, not to mention PG&E, cable, water, sewer, garbage, all also increasing,” Riedel explained.

A pair of bills proposed by lawmakers this session could offer some relief. One (SB 802) would allow condo associations that insure with the state-backed Citizens to pay premiums based on the value of their roof, rather than the replacement cost, which would likely save some upfront costs.

Another proposal, (HB 1029) aims to expand the My Safe Florida home hardening grants to allow condo owners and associations to apply for matching funds.

It’s not just the growing fees concerning condo owners in the Tampa Bay area, but also how associations and boards are using their money. Because of that, Lawmakers are moving to further increase and strengthen state oversight of HOAs and COAs

Creating a state database of condo communities, a pilot program to further investigate fraud (SB 426) and conduct audits, and making important documents more accessible, are among a slew of proposals within more than a dozen bills, including the bipartisan-sponsored SB 1178, being looked at right now.

“It doesn’t matter who you talk to, no one thinks this process is set up to help the unit owners,” State Sen. Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) said during a recent committee hearing.

Travis Moore, a government affairs specialist, who works with lawmakers to craft legislation, says there is an "appetite" on both sides of the aisle to see reforms through.

“I think legislators and policymakers are beginning to see [the issue] and know that we need to make some adjustments,” Moore added.

While he says fixing the insurance market as a whole isn’t a reality for the legislative session, there could be some other reforms made to keep safety paramount but also help condo owners from taking on so much extra cost at once.

“There will be some tweaks, I think there's going to be some efforts to try to provide for ways to finance without having to just do all cash, maybe lines of credit, some of those types of things,” Moore explained.