Latent Construction Defects and Florida’s Statute of Repose
Generally, there is a 4 year statute of limitation period to file a complaint for defects where it concerns the construction of real property. This statute of limitation applies to defects that are discoverable. However, Florida Statute 95.11 provides a statute of repose period for latent defects actions. These are defects that are not discoverable or do not easily manifest after the building of the structure has been completed. The statute of repose prohibits any action that arises out of the design, construction, planning or improvement of real property for a certain time period.
Specifically, section (3)(c) states that the statute of limitations for latent defects begins to run from the time the defect is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence on the part of the claimant. Further, an action based on the latent defect must be brought to court within 10 years after the date of actual possession by the owner, the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the date of abandonment of construction if not completed, or the date of completion of the contract or termination of the contract, whichever date is the latest.
In 2018, an amendment was signed into law that introduced additional requirements for the bringing counterclaims, cross-claims, and third-party claims that arise of the original latent defect action. Specifically, the Florida legislature decided that the party bringing a cross-claim or third-party claim can bring such claim up to one year after the original pleading is served even if such claims would otherwise be barred by the general 10-year statute of limitation.
Therefore, individuals who seek to bring cross-claims, counterclaims and third party claims have been effectively given another year to pursue their claims in relation to latent defects. This also places individuals who are normally viewed as third-parties such as designers and subcontractors at an advantage because it provides them the time to have knowledge of the defect and also time to craft their position. With the additional one year, the party is placed at an advantageous position to advance a challenge to the litigation.
Florida Construction Law Attorneys
Brendan Sweeney is a Fort Lauderdale construction lawyer with years of experience in the area of Florida construction defects litigation. If you have any defects litigation questions and/or issues then contact contact us now for a consultation.