Our Florida condo is about 40 years old, 13 stories and 2 elevators.
During our last annual elevator inspection (around June) we were advised that any elevator installed prior to 1987 in a building more than 75 feet must be brought up to current code.
We hired an elevator consultant who gave us a ball park estimate for making the required changes. He further advised us that making those changes would necessitate completely updating the buildings fire system to meet code and that ADA code requirements must also be met. We have confirmed these requirements with other consultants, the fire Marshall and the Bureau of Elevator Safety
These are the main changes we must make:
1. Door restrictors to insure doors will not open if elevator is over 3" from floor
2. Telephone service (there are no phones now)
3. Fire service to send elevators to ground floor in the event of a fire
4. Elevator fire service must be tied to the main panel of our buildings fire system. Our current system is too old to be compatible with the new required elevator system. Therefore we have to update the building's panel and that requires we update the entire fire system.
5. Update tamper switches for fire sprinklers
6. ADA requires an alarm device be installed in each bedroom
7. Elevator buttons must be lowered and railings installed
8. Update elevator room
To make a long sad story as short as possible, although we have some reserve funds for elevator and safety, we expect that it will cost us an additional $450,000 to $550,000 to make the changes...up to $5700 per unit. Our monthly maintenance fees are about $350 and a special assessment to cover the code updates will add about $475 to that fee (for 12 months).
To make it worse, we will need another special assessment in the next year or two of another $500,000 to replace balcony railings in order to ensure the cathodic protection we installed to prevent deterioration of our balconies works properly.
The notice of special assessment went out last week, and already we have had several homeowners (many of our homeowners are on fixed income) tell us they simply cannot make the payments and would be forced to sell...we already have about 12 units out of 97 for sale and one is in foreclosure.
We have written to the state asking for a hardship variance, but have received no reply.
Of course, now we have no certificate for our elevators and have been advised that we are subject to a $1,000 per day fine.
My questions are:
1. Do we have any options here?
2. If we presented the state with a four or five year (or more?) timeline to accomplish this, pleading hardship, what are the chances they'd agree?
3. It has been suggested that even if we did nothing, the state would take no action against us – is this likely?
Any input will be greatly appreciated!