The prominent law firm Becker has lobbied against safety measures and regulations surrounding condos and associations in Florida for decades, according to an investigative report from the Sun Sentinel.
And the same law firm represented Champlain Towers South, the oceanfront building in Surfside that collapsed in June, killing 98 people.
Fort Lauderdale-based Becker, long known as Becker & Poliakoff, crafted much of the state’s condo legislation, and opposed regulatory laws, including reforms that would have required associations to fund their reserves. The firm also reportedly bullied unit owners that have tried to fight associations the firm represents. according to the Sun Sentinel.
In Florida, owners can vote to waive funding reserves for projects that cost more than $10,000.
In 2006, Becker opposed a bill that would have required structural inspections every five years, term limits for condo board members, and more. Becker attorney and shareholder Donna DiMaggio Berger, who represents Champlain Towers South, led the opposition and said at the time that it was so “provocative,” it would have angered people, the Sun Sentinel reported. Then-state senator Rene Garcia proposed the bill.
Now, Becker is also playing a role in whatever changes could come as a result of the Surfside condo collapse. Becker attorney Joseph Adams is on the Florida Bar’s task force that is advising Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Legislature on ways to prevent a collapse from occuring again.
The law firm represents more than 4,000 condo buildings and has lobbying agreements with a number of municipalities throughout Florida.
The Sun Sentinel reported that even though Becker attorneys lobbied against reforming the law regarding reserves, DiMaggio Berger spoke out after the collapse regarding stronger reserves.
“In far too many communities, we do have members voting to waive reserves each year,” she said on CNN.
[Sun Sentinel] – Katherine Kallergis