Publication Date



University of California, Irvine Law Review


Forty years after the widespread popularization of residential condominium ownership in the United States, millions of Americans now live in aging, densely occupied structures that are subject to little (if any) ongoing regulation of structural safety. Most structural safety requirements are imposed and enforced at the time of initial construction, thus relegating questions of how to maintain a building’s structural integrity to individual owners and the mechanisms of condominium governance. However, reliance on voluntary action by unit owners too often falters because the divided ownership characteristic of the condominium form deters associations from investing in preventive maintenance. Postponement of critical repairs is especially likely when structural safety risks are neither visibly apparent nor easily understood without structural engineering expertise. But tragically, the failure to address structural deterioration can be a deadly mistake, as demonstrated by the 2021 collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida.

This Article tackles the problem of structural deterioration in the large and growing stock of aging residential condominiums. It argues that building codes should be reformed to mandate periodic structural safety certifications, while also recognizing that regulation alone may be insufficient to ensure completion of expensive structural repairs when individual owners are unwilling or unable to pay for them. After explaining how property law’s prioritization of liens impedes condominium associations from developing innovative strategies for financing critical structural repairs, the Article proposes reforms that would incentivize the development of a debt market to enable associations to finance those repairs while allowing cash-strapped owners to remain in their homes.





First Page



University of California, Irvine School of Law


condominium, structural safety, Champlain Towers, real estate, residential, liens, concrete, building code, insurance


Housing Law | Law | Property Law and Real Estate



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