Legal commentary by Gunster attorneys Cynthia Spall and Thomas Jenks was published recently in the Daily Business Review. Both shareholders work in Gunster’s real estate practice, with Spall located in the firm’s West Palm Beach office, and Jenks in its Jacksonville office.
The controversial new law affecting new construction took effect earlier this year. It prohibits some claims related to alleged defects, and means the costs to fix defects in residential common areas will likely be borne by individual homeowners in the community.
Background: Sinkholes in central Florida lawns led to a lawsuit against the subdivision builder/developer. The court found the homeowners association indeed had a claim against the builder/developer for “implied warranties of fitness and merchantability.” But this ruling conflicted with a 1985 ruling. The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments in the matter in December of last year. But, before the justices could issue a ruling, the Florida Legislature passed HB 1013 — the new law effective earlier this year — which essentially invalidates the claim brought by the HOA in the initial Winter Garden case.
Proponents of the new law say the first ruling (allowing the HOA had a claim) contradicts 40 years of common law on the issue, and is counterproductive to economic growth in the state.
Opponents of the new law say it eliminates implied warranties for common areas of all communities in the state and is therefore harmful to consumers.
Read the entire article as it appeared in the Daily Business Review on June 12, 2012: Homeowner recourse limited on implied warranty claims. Also, read a related article that appeared on Tallahassee.com on July 22, 2012: Purchasers of contaminated sites are liable.