New Florida Law Reduces Statute of Limitation for Design Claims to 7 Years
Homeowners and owners of condos in Florida should be aware of a new law. Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature passed a law that reduces the time condo and property owners have to file lawsuits over construction defects, The statute of limitations has been changed from 10 years to seven years. This means that owners purchasing properties years after construction could be left with no recourse if their building suffers from design defects.
The previous law established the timeframe for filing a lawsuit based on the design and construction of a property. For latent defects (not easily discoverable), the statute of limitations was generally four years from the date the defect was discovered or should have been discovered. For defects considered to be patent (obvious or known), the statute of limitations was also four years beginning from the latest date of the following:
- The owner’s actual possession
- Issuance of a certificate of occupancy
- Abandonment of construction, if not completed
- Completion or termination of the engineer’s, architect’s, or contractor’s contract.
The new statutory changes significantly shorten the statute of limitations for bringing about a lawsuit for construction defects. For defects considered to be patent, the statute of limitations now starts to run from the earliest of:
- Issuance of a certificate of occupancy.
- Issuance of a certificate of completion.
- Abandonment of construction, if not completed.
For condominium associations, Florida Statute 718 creates an exception. The statute of limitations does not start until the unit owners elect a majority of the members of the board. Owners will be limited to a seven-year time period for filing a lawsuit.
Proponents of the new law are contractors and developers. They argue that the changes were necessary to reduce liability for various entities, including buildings, insurance companies, and other professionals in the construction industry. They claim that shortening the recourse time will allow for costs to go down, which will provide more affordable housing options for residents. This is good for potential homeowners.
The law is expected to have a significant impact on the legal landscape and construction industry in the state. The changes could leave property owners bearing the cost associated with repairing construction defects that they did not discover during the shortened statute of limitations.
However, owners of condominium buildings will likely be affected the most, as it often takes many years to take control of their association’s board of directors. Business executives in the construction industry will need to develop strategies to minimize exposure to legal claims arising from construction defects.
Contact Us Today
Construction professionals favor this new law, as it will decrease their liability. Property owners are the ones who will see the biggest impacts.
If your property or project has suffered a design defect, contact a Florida design professional liability lawyer from Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. We can help you determine if you have a valid design professional liability claim against the architect or engineer who is responsible for the mistake. To schedule a consultation, call 561-626-8880 or fill out the online form.