Lawsuits alleging construction defects are governed under Chapter 558, Florida Statues. Chapter 558 requires written notice from the claimant to the construction or design professionals alleged to be responsible for defects or deficiencies. The law provides specific time-frames for the construction or design professionals to review the claims, inspect the property and respond. Responses from recipients of the claims could include an offer to repair the defects at no cost to the claimant, pay a monetary settlement, dispute the claim and decline to remedy or pay for some or all of the claimed defects, or some combination of these options.
Originally enacted in 2003, Chapter 558 has recently undergone some meaningful changes that could impact a claimant’s ability to make a claim. Additionally, Florida law imposes strict time limits (i.e. the applicable statute of limitations and statute of repose) for a claimant to bring a defect claim. Specifically, a claimant must demonstrate that that a lawsuit based on “design, planning, or construction of an improvement to real property” is brought within an allotted period of time. See Section 95.11(3)(c), Florida Statutes.
In Florida, construction defect lawsuits typically must be filed within four (4) years from the latest of the following scenarios:
- the date of actual possession by the owner,
- the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy,
- the date of abandonment of construction if not completed, or
- the date of completion or termination of the contract between the professional engineer, registered architect, or licensed contractor and his or her employer.
If the action involves a latent defect, “the time runs from the time the defect is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.” See Section 95.11(3)(c), Florida. Statutes.
However, for construction lawsuits involving latent defects (a fault in the property that could not have been discovered by a reasonably thorough inspection before the sale), Florida’s Statute of Repose requires these construction law actions to be commenced no later than ten (10) years after the latest of the above-referenced scenarios.
If you believe you may be eligible for compensation under Florida’s construction defect law, JP Salas Law can help guide you through the process. Call JP Salas Law at (954) 315 – 1115 to discuss your options.