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LEGISLATIVE ALERT – SB360 – Turnover Claims – Statute of Repose

On March 14, 2023, the Governor signed SB-360 which addresses, among other things, a shortening of the statute of repose for construction defect claims.

A "statute of repose" or "repose period" is a hard deadline on bringing claims against a developer, design engineer, architect, builder or other contractor for defective design or construction.Until last week, the repose period in Florida was 10 years, generally running from completion of the building or actual possession by the owner, whichever was later.

SB-360 shortens the repose period to 7 years from the date of a temporary certificate of occupancy, final certificate of occupancy, certificate of completion, or the abandonment of construction of an uncompleted improvement, whichever is earliest.SB-360 also makes it clear that in a multi-building community, the repose period runs on a building-by-building basis, not from completion of the community.The law is effective immediately.However, for any community which has buildings or site improvements completed more than 7 years ago, but less than 10 years ago, it provides a grace period until July 1, 2024 to commence a claim for damages from defective construction against the responsible parties.

This new legislation presents difficult issues for existing Condo and HOA communities.Going forward, many communities may see situations where turnover is beyond 7 years from completion of the buildings or the site improvements.Thus, developers have an incentive to delay turnover to defeat future claims against them.Furthermore, since the repose period is measured building-by-building, an Association may have to front multiple lawsuits against a developer who builds a large multi-building community over a period of many years.

The immediate takeway for Condo and HOA managers and boards is to act now to preserve claims for the defective construction of your buildings or site improvements completed more than 7 years ago, but less than 10 years ago – you have until July 1, 2024 to investigate those claims, prepare and serve Chapter 558 Notices of Construction Defects, and commence a lawsuit.Communities in that bracket would do well to engage a forensic engineer to investigate your buildings and site improvements expeditiously.