Surfside collapse prompts NJ to impose new law on condos

More than two years after a building collapse in Florida killed 98 people, New Jersey is acting to ensure a similar incident won’t happen in the Garden State.

It figures to cost condo and co-op owners some money.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation this month to tighten the rules for inspections, maintenance and reserve funds of residential buildings in the state, reported.

The law, only the second of its kind at the state level in the U.S., is geared towards the structural integrity of condominiums and co-ops. Florida was first to enact such a measure, and some localities have passed some as well.

Ed San George, owner and president of Integra Management, played a leading role in crafting the bill, which even covers low-rise buildings. Initially, only buildings of seven or more stories were targeted, but the measure was expanded, he told the website.

Buildings constructed in the future will need their first inspection within 15 years. Existing buildings must be inspected within two years.

Any buildings that endure a structural incident, such as severe weather, need to be inspected within 60 days.

Building associations will be required to conduct a reserve study to determine how much money needs to be set aside for major repairs or building element replacements. Homeowners associations that have already done a study must update it within five years. New HOAs have two years to do a study, and existing associations have 12 months.

San George said the required reserve studies will help ensure building associations have enough money to address major issues.

“This legislation supersedes governing documents that limit boards’ authority to levy assessments or borrow money for a justified structural repair,” San George said.

The bill’s journey was a long one. It was introduced at the start of the previous legislative session and was signed on the final day of the two-year session.

Holden Walter-Warner

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