Maryland Skyline

Maryland

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


Maryland

There is a statutory warranty (§10-203) under Maryland law by the developer of a newly constructed home, regarding the construction quality of that home.  This warranty applies only as to defects that would not have been apparent at the time of purchase.  The warranty period for the absence of structural defects is two years.  For all other defects, the warranty period is one year. 

An action to enforce that statutory warranty must be commenced within two years after the end of the warranty period, or within two years after the defect was or should have been discovered, whichever occurs first. 

For condo associations and their unit owners, there  is an additional warranty of construction quality under the Maryland Condominium Act.  The warranty period under the Condominium Act for defects within the units themselves is one year from the developer’s sale of the unit in question.  However, for common area defects the warranty period is usually three years from the sale of the first unit or two years from when the unit owners took control of the association board, whichever is later.

Notice of the defect in the unit or common area must be given to the developer during the warranty period, and legal action to enforce the warranty must be commenced within one year after the end of the warranty period.

There are also additional statutory warranties of construction quality that may apply to residential projects governed by the Maryland Homeowners Association Act or by the Cooperative Housing Corporations Act. 

Also, Montgomery County has its own construction warranty program that the county administers, but it doesn’t apply to common areas of any condo project or to any part of a condo project more than four stories in height. Additionally, the Montgomery County warranty program applies only where the claim is brought to the developer’s attention within 30 days after expiration of the warranty period.  And for most defects, that warranty period is only one year.

However, purchasers of newly constructed homes may also receive protection against construction defects under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (the “CPA”). Their protection under that Act may prove more valuable than their protection under Maryland’s various statutory warranties of construction quality. There are two reasons why this is so.  First, the period within which a CPA action must be commenced does not start to run until the facts giving rise to the CPA violation are “discovered” (or “should have been discovered”).  And second, if the purchaser wins the CPA action, the Court can make an attorney fee award in the purchaser’s favor, but usually cannot make an attorney fee award against the purchaser even if the purchase doesn’t win.  The risk of having to pay a large attorney fee award if a CPA case goes to trial gives a developer a strong incentive to settle, and to do so early in the dispute resolution process.

The key to achieving a successful resolution of a construction defect claim, regardless of whether that claim is based on warranty rights or rights under the CPA, is to take action to enforce those warranty or CPA rights before they expire. 

General Resources

For a brief discussion of your legal rights and how much time you have to exercise them, please refer to Frequently Asked Questions.

If you would like to learn more about the construction defect resolution process, we suggest that you download an Overview of the Survivor’s Guide, which summarizes the board’s duties, construction defects, warranty rights and claims and the role of the attorney.

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.