Ask a Real Estate Pro: Condos can opt out of costly fire sprinklers

Board-certified real estate lawyer Gary M. Singer writes about the housing market at SunSentinel.com/business/realestate each Friday. To ask him a question, email him at gary@garysingerlaw.com, or go to SunSentinel.com/askpro.

Q: I understand that there is a state law requiring condominium associations to retrofit buildings with fire sprinklers. This sounds expensive. Can you tell me what is going on here? — Theodore

A: In 2003, the Florida Legislature required condominium buildings to be retrofitted with fire sprinkler systems, and the law was tweaked in recent years. Condo associations are supposed to have the applications for the permits necessary to make the changes by Dec. 31, a deadline that is fast approaching. The work should be completed within three years from that date.

The idea behind the new requirement is to save lives, but the cost of the retrofits is steep: up to $8,600 per owner, in some cases, according to the state Division of Corporations.