New Florida Law Cuts the Time to Sue Your Builder for Construction Issues | Opportunity For All Floridians

New Florida Law Cuts the Time to Sue Your Builder for Construction Issues

Worried about shoddy workmanship in Florida? Buyer beware, you now have less time to figure it out. Governor DeSantis signed SB 360 on April 13, 2023. This new law made substantial changes to Florida Statutes Chapter 553: “BUILDING CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS. The changes mean that property owners have less time to make a complaint against builders about construction problems. It also limits the reasons property owners can take builders to court over supposed breaches of the Florida Building Code. 

What Does the Law Change?

  • Reduces the time property owners have to file a complaint about hidden construction problems from 10 years to 7 years. 
  • The trigger date for the statute of limitations to start running on obvious or hidden construction defects is moved backward to include the issuing date for temporary certificates of occupancy or certificates of completion. 
  • The end of a contract between an engineer, architect, or contractor and their employer is no longer the starting point for the time to file a complaint about obvious or hidden construction issues. 
  • The time for complaints based on obvious or hidden construction problems now begins on the earliest listed start date, not the latest.
  • The start time for filing a complaint about obvious or hidden construction problems in a newly built single-family home that was used as a show home is when the title is first transferred to someone else. 
  • When a property improvement includes many buildings, each building is treated individually for the purpose of filing complaints. 
  • Fines for breaking the Florida Building Code are now only for serious violations that could or have caused harm to a person or significant damage to a building or its systems. 
  • The changes to the law were made right away when the law was signed on April 13, 2023. This was true even if the cause for the complaint happened before this date. Any complaints that would not have been blocked by the old time limits have to be started by July 1, 2024. This gives claimants at least a year from when the changes were made to start a construction defect action. If it’s not started by then and the changes would stop the action, then it can’t go ahead.

 

State Representative Mike Beltran (R-District 70) voted against this bill, stating: "Thousands of new homes are built in my district each year. This bill reduces the statute of repose from ten years to seven for construction defect claims. My constituents expect their new homes to last without defects for decades. Builders should build homes to last at least a decade. Consumers typically pay their mortgages for 30 years, yet the industry expects to be liable for only 7 years. New home buyers will be paying their mortgages for years after their ability to seek redress for construction defects has ended."

Effect of the Changes

SB 360 promises to leave an undeniable mark on property owners and builders entangled in issues of hidden or obvious construction flaws. Property owners, under the new law, will be racing against the clock to pinpoint these issues and bring builders to court for breaching the Florida Building Code. 

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