Condominium / Construction Litigation
Litigating Construction Defect Claims in Alabama and Florida
Condominiums are popular because they are usually less expensive and easier to maintain than homes that are freestanding. They are especially prevalent in the Southeastern United States, where families from all over the country own vacation homes, and numerous developers are engaged in the business of “flipping” properties. If you are experiencing damages or losses associated with a condominium property in Alabama or Florida, consulting a construction defect attorney may be a useful solution. Retaining an experienced civil litigator to take legal action against the developer, homeowners' association, or other responsible parties can help you recover damages for your losses, or get the situation resolved to your satisfaction.
Holding Developers and Associations Accountable
If you are facing a potential legal dispute related to condominium ownership or construction on the Gulf Coast, it is important to consult an attorney who has an understanding of the differences between the applicable legal standards in different jurisdictions. For example, it is important to know that in Florida, condominiums and homeowners' associations offer two concepts of ownership. Condominiums offer individual unit ownership, but shared ownership of common areas, such as walls, recreational areas, and halls. Homeowners' associations, controlled by unit owners, give each member control over a lot, but surrounding common areas are managed by an association for the benefit of homeowners. Condominiums are governed by Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes, whereas homeowners' associations are governed by Chapter 720. The nature of relief you may be afforded depends in part on which of these two types of ownership applies to the unit you bought.
Unit owners often need legal advice when conflicts exist between them, or between a unit owner and the condominium or homeowners' association. They may also need legal help in connection with the developers of these projects. Some common disputes involve construction defects, challenges to the condominium amendments of bylaws or other documents, and disagreements with governing decisions. Certain agreements require that disputes between the unit owner and homeowners' association or condominium be arbitrated except in specific circumstances, while other disputes are expected to be resolved in courtroom proceedings.
Construction Defects in Florida Condominium Projects
Why would a condominium owner sue a developer? A common scenario giving rise to litigation occurs when a developer turns over a condominium that has construction defects to unit owners. If pipes in a common area were improperly installed and have caused mold and other damage to matters of common interest concerning most of the unit owners, a condominium association may file a lawsuit against the developer for construction defects under Section 718.111 of the Florida Statutes.
Under Section 718.203, the developer, contractor, subcontractors and suppliers owe statutory implied warranties to unit owners that the association can assert. One such warranty is the warranty of fitness as to work performed. In the example above, the plumbing supplier and subcontractor would have given an implied warranty of fitness of three years that the pipes to the building would be properly installed.
The statute of limitations for these claims is four years. If this time has passed and new defects are discovered, the condominium owner may pursue a claim for latent defects, which are those not discovered in spite of due diligence. The statute of repose cuts off construction defect claims after 10 years from when the building received its original Certificate of Occupancy, regardless of when the defects were discovered.
Sometimes disputes arise before you get a chance to move into your home. In many cases, buyers enter into preconstruction contracts for the purchase of condominiums and make deposits in connection with those contracts. Unfortunately, some developers violate state or federal law in registering or marketing a preconstruction real estate project.
Among other things, developers may fail to make full disclosures under the Federal Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, fail to complete a project on time, fail to make the required consumer protection disclosures, make false or misleading representations to consumers, or fail to follow the design specified in the contract. Any violations like these may allow you to cancel the contract with the developer and receive a return of deposit money along with interest and attorneys' fees.
Discuss Your Condominium Lawsuit with a Knowledgeable Attorney
Buying a home should be a cause for celebration. When an HOA or a developer fails to live up to its promises, it can have very real impacts on your family's lifestyle, health, and wellbeing. Unfortunately, many associations and developers fail to take complaints seriously until a tenacious and reputable litigator is involved. Our Alabama condominium litigation firm is located in the Baldwin County city of Fairhope, near Mobile. We also practice in Florida cities such as Pensacola and Panama City, serving clients with cutting-edge technology, clear communication, 25 years of combined experience, and ethical strategies. Contact us by calling 251-928-0191 or request a consultation through our online form.