Senate Bill 360 (SB 360) was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 13, 2023, immediately becoming effective upon such signing. The bill is sure to significantly impact construction defect claims in Florida. This is because it drastically reduces the time limit for property owners to file suit against builders and construction professionals for construction defects and imposes a more stringent standard for bringing a claim under the Florida Building Code.
Furthermore, the bill shortens the statute of repose for construction defect claims from 10 years to 7 years. Essentially, a statute of repose is the absolute deadline by which a lawsuit can be filed, even if a cause of action hasn’t yet occurred or you don’t know you may have a claim. The bill not only shortens the length of time from 10 to 7 years, but it also changes the events that may trigger the clock to start and changes it from the last event to occur to the first to occur. Previously, the clock started running on the latest of any of the following events: actual possession by the owner; date of issuance of a certificate of occupancy; date of abandonment of incomplete construction; or the date of completion of termination of the contract between the engineer, architect, or contractor and her/his employer. However, now, the clock begins running on the earliest of any of the following events: the date of issuance of a temporary certificate of occupancy, a certificate of occupancy, or a certificate of completion; or the date of abandonment of incomplete construction. This means the length of time before building owners can be barred from bringing defect claims is shortened significantly.
The bill also narrows the scope of statutory civil actions against builders for alleged violations of the Florida Building Code from any violation to a “material” violation. The bill defines a “material” violation as a Florida Building Code violation that exists within a completed building, structure, or facility which may reasonably result, or has resulted, in physical harm to a person or significant damage to the performance of a building or its systems.
HB 360 Quick Reference:
Why Does It Matter?
This bill is important in that it now shortens the amount of time that an association can bring a construction defect claim and may actually act to stop an association from being able to bring a construction defect claim if the Association turns over from Developer control after the statute of repose has lapsed.
Steven G. Rappaport is an Equity Partner in the Community Associations Practice Group. Mr. Rappaport handles transactional matters for the firm’s community association clients, including drafting amendments to governing documents, attending Board meetings and elections, handling covenant enforcement disputes, and providing opinions on all aspects of association issues. To learn more about Steven including how to work with him, click here.
Associate Attorney Michael Ungerbuehler has been helping community associations across the State of Florida with their legal needs for more than 20 years. In January 2018, Michael joined Sachs Sax Caplan to focus his representation of community associations in South Florida. To learn more about Michael including how to work with him, click here.
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