Miami building collapse: Can we trust our buildings?

By now, most of us have learned of the devastating Champlain Towers South condominium building collapse on June 24, 2021 in the outskirts of Miami, Florida.

Miami building collapse

Photo credit: BBC

As of this writing, all residents had been accounted for and all 98 victims had been identified. An investigation by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) had taken place, and a new lawsuit alleges that a luxury construction project, just feet away from the property, triggered the tragedy.

The firestorm of media coverage has resulted in calls to protect the public, and Miami’s mayor ordered an immediate audit of older high-rise buildings. The audit led city officials to evacuate a second building, Crestview Towers, which had numerous structural safety violations.

woman mourning miami building collapse

Photo credit: NPR

How could this building collapse happen?

Miami-Dade County requires that certain buildings undergo certification of structural safety once they are 40 years old, and these buildings must re-certify every 10 years after that. The certification procedure can point to structural areas that need repair. The issue, of course, is that the repairs do not happen overnight, even if the structural danger is serious.

While that may be the procedure in Miami-Dade, each locality across the country has its own structural safety rules. The rules are dependent on location-specific risk factors, including weather-related events such as hurricanes. Each locality may also have different rules for how to remedy structural dangers and what threshold requires evacuation.

girl sitting on ledge in hostorical apartment building

How can I keep myself safe from a building collapse?

Regardless of where you live, get involved and get informed. If you live in a condo or co-op-style building, ask the condominium association or responsible board for information on safety issues or requirements like structural certifications.

If you live in a rented property, ask your leasing office or landlord for information on any structural safety requirements it must maintain with the city, county, or state. Once you know the requirements, ask for information about any structural safety violations and the timetable for repairs.

If you feel that the information is unsatisfactory, the safest course of action may be to move. The consequences of unrepaired structural safety issues can be deadly. In light of these events, do not assume that your condominium association or property management company is doing everything they can to ensure your safety.

If you are concerned about your rights, have questions post-displacement, or want to know how to protect yourself, contact an attorney. If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of a landlord or housing association, call Allen & Allen for a free consultation today, at 866-388-1307.