Petition Filed For Declaratory Statement on Fire Sprinkler Opt Out Statute

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Attorneys, Alan Garfinkel, Esq., Erik Whynot, Esq. and Dara Lahav, Esq., filed a Formal Petition with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) on Friday, August 29, 2016 seeking an Expedited Declaratory Statement regarding Florida’s Fire Sprinkler Opt Out Statute on behalf of Dory Villas on Lake Miona Condo Association. (In Re: Petition for Declaratory Statement, Dory Villas on Lake Miona Condominium Association, Docket No.: 20160405)

In 2010, the Florida Fire Sprinkler Retrofitting Statute was changed and the "high-rise" condominium language was removed. The applicable Florida Statute, §718.112(2)(1)(l) is now silent regarding whether the Statute applies to low-rise and mid-rise condominiums.

“Low-rise condos and their professional managers are in a panic, and rightfully so,” said Attorney Alan Garfinkel. “A low-rise condo should not have to spend the time and money to opt out if the Statute does not apply to them, we as attorneys have a duty to advise all condos that in an abundance of caution take a vote and opt out.”

The Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes was quoted in media articles advising multifamily buildings in Florida, regardless of height, to install sprinklers unless they opt out by December 31, 2016.

“Unfortunately, there is much confusion and misinformation circulating regarding the upcoming Sprinkler Opt Out Law and its fast approaching 12/31/16 Deadline and the only definitive ruling would come from either the Florida Legislature or an Appellate Court and neither will happen before your Board must act,” said Attorney Erik Whynot. “To date, there has been no clarification from the DBPR whether Florida Statute §718.112(2)(1)(l) applies to the thousands of low-rise and mid-rise condominiums throughout the state.”

A few incidents lead to the confusion. First, On July 8, 2016, Tony Doris from the Palm Beach Post published an article quoting Travis Keels, deputy director of communications for the DBPR where he stated, "Generally speaking, the fire sprinkler requirement applies to all residential condominiums for the DBPR.” Second, on July 28, 2016, Senator Jeremy Ring wrote a letter to Kevin Stanfield, Director of the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes in which he stated that the Division was providing misinformation regarding this Statute applying to low-rise condominiums because the Statute does not apply to low rise condominiums. He also stated that it was not his intent, nor the Legislature's intent to cause a burden to low-rise condominiums by forcing them to comply with this Statute. Then, this month, the Florida Fire Sprinkler Association, Inc. and the American Fire Sprinkler Association - Florida, issued a joint press release that states, "There is no statutory fire sprinkler retrofit requirement for existing mid-rise or low-rise condominiums and therefore no need to vote to opt out."

“We researched and determined the fastest way to obtain definitive guidance was for us to take it upon ourselves and immediately file a Formal Petition with the DBPR,” said Attorney Dara Lahav. “The DBPR must respond and when it does, we will have a precise and binding decision regarding who the Statute applies to and what the Statute actually means. We anticipate the DBPR responding to our Expedited Petition very soon given the fact that thousands of condominium property owners will be affected.”

To date, there has been no clarification from the DBPR whether Florida Statute §718.112(2)(1)(l) applies to low-rise and mid-rise condominiums throughout the state.

To view our Expedited Petition click here.

To view the Division Statement Regarding Fire Sprinkler Retrofitting click here:


Alan Garfinkel, Erik Whynot and Dara Lahav are dedicated Community Association Attorneys providing the highest quality legal counsel to homeowner associations throughout Central Florida. For more than two decades, Alan Garfinkel, Erik Whynot and partners have dedicated their legal careers to community association law, and earned a stellar reputation for excellent advice and exemplary service. Our clients appreciate our counsel which extends beyond the law as we are educators, corporate advisors, board meeting facilitators and unequivocal advocates. Legal services offered for community associations include transactional, corporate, litigation, construction defect, property damage, collections and insurance law. We only represent community associations thereby eliminating any conflicts representing your community. We do not represent developers, financial institutions, insurance companies or other entities whose interests often conflict with those of our community association clients. Your community will receive unparalleled personal service and communication. We are readily accessible to deliver top legal services timely and within your budget.

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Alan Garfinkel
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