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2 bills in Florida Legislature could affect condo associations

Like with any residential property, when a condominium has a serious structural defect, it is natural to want the responsible party to take care of fixing it. Many times, this means the contractor or developer of the property.

Litigation against a condominium’s builders or developers may get more complicated, if a pair of bills before the Florida Legislature becomes law. One bill would shorten the amount of time condo associations have to file suit by three years. The other would tighten the requirements for the filing of a valid claim.

Under current law, the statute of repose for construction defect lawsuits is 10 years. A bill would lower the time limit to seven years. This could make it difficult to obtain compensation for long-dormant problems that do not become reasonably apparent until several years after construction ended.

The other bill has to do with a relatively new law that facilitates settlements between parties to construction defect cases. The bill would amend the statute to increase the evidence that a homeowner must present against an architect or engineer to avoid having their claim dismissed.

First, the plaintiff would have to cite specific code provisions and building plans when claiming a deviation. This would generally mean a condo association would have to hire an engineer to review their case, which could be very expensive. Also, the bill would punish associations for filing errors, potentially forcing the association to explain why its claim is not “frivolous.”

As the law changes, it is important for condo associations dealing with defects or other problems to stay up to date on their rights and responsibilities. The best way to do this is to consult with a knowledgeable attorney.

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