Water Intrusion in Florida Homes and Condos
If it is summertime in Florida, then there must be a thunderstorm rolling in. Unfortunately for many residents, the afternoon thunderstorms result in water intrusion through windows, roofs or other portions of the building envelope. This is a worrisome proposition for most as the thoughts of what is wrong with our brand new homes or condos run the gamut, from the simple lack of sealant at a location to significant construction defects.
One of the most important legal considerations is the running of the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time frame within which a lawsuit must be filed in order to have any recovery against the party or parties responsible for the damage. This is especially important where the defect is one resulting in building leaks.
There is 4 years from the date on which the first leak is observed, or should have been observed with the exercise of reasonable diligence, within which to file suit. This puts the onus on an owner to not ignore the problem, but conduct reasonable investigation to determine what the issue is and how it can be addressed and file suit if necessary. The liability of the responsible parties is not endless.
An important point is that the limitations period continues to run, even if the developer or contractor attempts to repair the defective items. I have seen numerous cases over the years where people had the contractor attempting to repair the building to no avail, and then found themselves outside the limitations period. Unfortunately, there is no tolling of the limitations period merely because the parties were “trying to work it out.” Every owner should be vigilant and take necessary steps to protect their rights.