877-879-8776
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California

Protect Valuable Property Rights in the event of construction defects and the resulting damage to your condominium or townhome project.


California

Association and unit owner rights with regard to construction defect issues and the procedures for resolution of construction defect claims in California are governed largely by the California Right to Repair Act (“SB 800”), the Calderon Act (Civil Code §1375, etc.), the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (Civil Code §6100, etc.) and California Common Law created by court decisions separate and apart from specific statutes.

Arguably, the Right to Repair Act is broader in its application than the Calderon Act because the former statute applies to all residential construction for sale to the public whereas the Calderon Act is limited in its application to common interest communities with 20 or more units.

However, under specified circumstances, a developer may be able to “opt out” of at least some of the procedural requirements of the Right to Repair Act, and arbitration provisions in developer sales contracts may override otherwise applicable provisions of the Right to Repair Act, the Calderon Act, and/or the Davis-Stirling Act.

As a result, the exact scope of association and unit owner rights and the process for enforcing those rights can be determined only after reviewing developer sales agreements, association governing documents and recorded Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions.

In any event, developers are strictly liable for defects in the construction of their residential projects, regardless of whether the defects were the result of developer negligence or the negligence of its contractors, designers or the manufacturers of the products incorporated into the project.

Contractors and others who performed the actual construction are liable only if their negligence contributed to the defects. Thus claimants can impose liability on the developer for all defects in the project and can impose liability on all contractors, designers and others who worked on the project to the extent that their work contributed to the defects.

The amount recoverable usually is the cost of repair, regardless of whether the repair work has yet been undertaken, the cost of investigation, to the extent that the investigation confirmed the defects, anticipated relocation costs, if any, during the repair process, and certain costs of suit. Normally, attorney fees are not recoverable, although creative legal counsel may be able to assert theories of recovery that may entitle claimants to recover at least some portion of their attorney fees.

Before taking formal action, a claimant will probably have to satisfy the notice of claim provisions of the Right to Repair Act, the Calderon Act, and/or the Davis-Stirling Act, or other procedural requirements imposed by the developer at the time the developer sold units in the project. Claimants that initiate legal proceedings without complying with these notice of claim requirements will be unable to move forward in those proceedings without complying with those requirements.

Claimants who make repairs without first complying with those notice requirements are likely in most situations to be barred from recovering the cost of repairs made without proper notice to the developer before the repairs have been made, except when it is impractical to give such notice before repairs are undertaken.

There is a limitations period within which rights must be formally exercised. Some claimants act on the erroneous assumption that this limitation period is ten years. However, that ten year period, measured generally but not always, from completion, applies only in the event the claim is not barred by some other shorter limitations period.

The limitations period actually applicable (unless the claim is in any event barred by the ten year statute) is usually 3 years, measured from time of discovery. And time of discovery means the point in time at which the defects were or should have been discovered by the claimant.

However, the limitations period for some defects can be as short as one year, and as to some defects, the limitations period can start to run regardless of the date the defect was or should have been discovered.

Additionally, otherwise applicable limitations periods may be shortened by provisions in developer sales contracts or other legal documents.

If claimants lose the case, it will probably be because the claimants waited too long to take legal action to enforce their rights. So perhaps the most important point to remember is that if there are potentially significant defects, an association board should promptly seek legal advice concerning association and unit owner rights and the time periods within which those rights need to be exercised.

General Resources

For more detailed information see: Developer and Contractor Liability

For additional information concerning the dispute resolution process and related questions please refer to: Frequently Asked Questions

At no charge to the association, Levin Law Group will:

  1. Meet with your board to discuss the association’s rights and time limits to exercise those rights.
  2. Send a trained consultant to observe any obvious signs of construction related problems at your project.
  3. Provide an online, unit owner’s survey which allows an owner to identify any problems in doors, windows, floors, electrical and mechanical systems, landscaping, etc.

  • Contact Us

    Levin Law Group LLP

    Richard Levin
    Managing Partner
    rlevin@levinlawgroupllp.com

    28494 Westinghouse Place, Suite 307
    Valencia, CA 91355

    951 Mariners Island Boulevard, Suite 300
    San Mateo, CA  94404

    Emily S. Levin
    Partner
    elevin@levinlawgroupllp.com

    606 N Larchmont Boulevard, Suite 4B
    Los Angeles, CA  90004

    Phone: 877-879-8776
    Fax: 877-310-0160