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Florida Statute 768.0706: A Guide to Compliance for Multifamily Properties - Part 2

Conducting a Preliminary Assessment for Compliance with Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)

Once a decision is made to proceed with HB 837 compliance, it is recommended that employees of the multifamily property conduct a preliminary survey of conditions specified in Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a). There is no sense in initiating in a comprehensive CPTED assessment if  the property isn’t compliant with basic requirements defined in Section A of the statute.

As described further in this article, confirming compliance with camera coverage and lighting conditions described in 768.0706(2)(a) may require professional assistance by a Florida CPTED Practitioner. However, many requirements defined in Section A are simple in nature and can be easily verified by property managers or maintenance personnel.

Following is a guide for conducting an internal assessment of compliance conditions  and a survey of topics that may require outside assistance.

Internal Assessment of Compliance Conditions - Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)

Residential Unit Inspections

Begin by inspecting several residential units for compliance with Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a).

If YES, verify with the maintenance manager that door hardware on all units is standardized. In most properties our consultants have assessed for HB 837 compliance, locking hardware on door units has been consistent. However, our consultants have encountered situations (particularly on older properties) where maintenance had used different models when replacing locks over time. If this is the case, a more thorough inspection should be conducted to ensure all door locks have 1-inch deadbolts.

If YES, verify with the maintenance manager that peepholes are standard on all units. Additionally, visually inspect the peephole to ensure it’s clear. Although our consultants rarely encounter properties where peepholes are absent, we do often find situations where peepholes are obstructed by accumulated dirt or paint. If that situation is observed, arrange for maintenance to clean all peepholes on property.

If YES, verify with the maintenance manager that window and sliding glass door hardware is standard on all units. While inspecting the windows, verify that the locking devices are working correctly and there are no problems resulting from misalignment.

Pool

Inspect the fencing and gates enclosing the pool area.

The primary issue of concern is if the pool area is unsecured during any periods. If some gates are equipped with access control hardware for resident access and others are normally locked by mechanical means (for exclusive use by maintenance), it is most likely compliant. However, we normally recommend replacing any unused gates with fencing or equipping them with access-controlled hardware as a precautionary measure against challenge by future litigants.

Lighting of Common Areas

Inspect the lighting in all laundry rooms, fitness rooms, community restrooms, and all other indoor common areas.

If the lights are operated by unsecured wall switches or motion-sensing switches (as commonly used in these types of rooms in multifamily properties), assume that they may be regarded as non-compliant. Wall switches can be turned off by residents and motion-sensing switches only operate the lights when the room is in use, thus the room is not “illuminated from dusk until dawn.”

Professional Assessment of Compliance Conditions - Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)

Verification of compliance with the aforementioned topics does not require specialized expertise and can be easily conducted by a competent employee. However, there are several additional compliance matters associated with Fla. Stat. § 768.0706 that often require assistance by a professional.

CCTV Camera Coverage and System Design - Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)(1)

Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)(1) requires that the property has a “security camera system at points of entry and exit which records, and maintains as retrievable for at least 30 days, video footage to assist in offender identification and apprehension.”

One of the ambiguities with the manner in which the statute is written is the question about what exactly constitutes “points of entry and exit.” It is expected that the court will eventually establish a clear definition through case precedent. In the meantime, our consultants employ the following guideline for purposes of interpretation.

For purposes of definition, CIS currently interprets the term “points of entry and exit” as all designed entrances through the legal boundary separating exterior public space and the private property. In horizontal properties and multi-building apartment complexes, “points of entry and exit” are defined by design as vehicle entrance drives connecting exterior roadways to inner parking lots and any sidewalks specifically designed to provide pedestrian access into the private property from the exterior public space.

In the case of apartment buildings (vertical properties) located directly adjacent to public streets and sidewalks, “points of entry and exit” encompass all exterior entrance and exit doors adjacent to public spaces, drive entrances into underground garages, and any sidewalks or gates specifically designed to facilitate pedestrian access into outdoor grounds of the private property from exterior public spaces (e.g., courtyard gates or entry paths, etc.).

If a property is completely enclosed by walls or fencing or located in an isolated area with limited entrances, identifying all “points of entry and exit” subject to camera coverage is often simple. However, in other cases, it may require a careful examination of the property’s boundaries as indicated by the property appraiser’s map and identification of all vehicle entry drives and pedestrian walkways providing passage from exterior public areas and the inner grounds of the private property. And in situations such as urban apartment buildings with a large number of exits and entrances and horizontal properties with walkways between public sidewalks and breezeways, identifying all possible “points of entry and exit” may require a systematic and careful analysis.

After all “points of entry and exit” are identified, camera imaging should be assessed to ensure that each point of entry and exit is completely visible by surveillance cameras and imaging is of sufficient quality for purposes of “offender identification and apprehension.” For this purpose, it is often best to evaluate camera imaging at night time to identify problems associated with low light functioning, illumination, glare, and contrast.

In addition to inspecting camera coverage, the assessment should encompass a review of stored footage to ensure that recordings are “retrievable for at least 30 days.” If the property’s DVR’s or NVR’s are programmed for retention based on a defined time period, ensuring there is at least 30 days of stored footage is usually sufficient. However, if retention time is determined by data storage limits, it is recommended that there is at least 45 days or more of retained footage to ensure that data storage isn’t a problem if additional cameras are added to the system in the future.

Parking Lot Illumination - Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)(2)

Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)(2) requires that the property has a “lighted parking lot illuminated at an intensity of at least an average of 1.8 foot-candles per square foot at 18 inches above the surface from dusk until dawn or controlled by photocell or any similar electronic device that provides light from dusk until dawn.”

Determining if the property is compliant with Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)(2) requires systematically measuring all parking spaces at 18-inches horizontal from ground using a NIST-calibrated light meter for accuracy. As a result, this part of the compliance assessment is best reserved for the Florida CPTED Practitioner during the CPTED assessment.

Walkway Illumination - Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)(3)

In addition to illumination in laundry rooms and common areas, Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)(3) requires that all walkways are illuminated from “dusk until dawn.”

However, the statute does not provide guidance for determining how far a light source must be located in proximity to “walkways, laundry rooms, common areas, and porches” to be considered as illuminated by “lighting” and it is expected this issue will be clarified through future court proceedings. In the meantime, our consultants employ the following guideline for purposes of interpretation.

For purposes of verifying compliance with F.S. 768.0706(2)(a)(3), CIS interprets the presence of “Lighting in walkways, laundry rooms, common areas, and porches” to mean that an illuminated light source must be visible within/from the “walkway, laundry room, common area, and porch” and the level of illumination is 0.1 fc or greater.[1]

Determining if the property is compliant with this guideline requires systematically measuring all sidewalks at ground-level using a NIST-calibrated light meter. And similar to the subject of parking lot illumination, this compliance verification activity is best reserved for the Florida CPTED Practitioner during the CPTED assessment.

[1] The CIS guideline used for interpretation of Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)(3) is lower than the IES guidelines for illumination in these areas. Although the IES guidelines for multifamily properties “when security is an issue” are promoted by FCPTI as the benchmark for CPTED assessments, the 0.1 fc guideline stated in our definition is only used for interpreting if an area is “illuminated by lighting” as required by Fla. Stat. § 768.0706(2)(a)(3)—not that an area is adequately illuminated under CPTED guidelines (which is a different matter). Thus if a walkway is illuminated at a level of 0.4 fc and a light source is visible, it is regarded as compliantly illuminated by lighting for purposes of 768.0706(2)(a)(3), but would be reported during a CPTED assessment as inadequately illuminated in accordance with the IES guideline of 1.0 fc or greater for sidewalks.

Additional Articles about Florida HB 837 Compliance for Multifamily Properties 

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