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


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. WHAT IS THE DEVELOPER’S STATUTORY WARRANTY LIABILITY FOR DEFECTS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF MY HOME?

A. It depends on whether your home is part of a condominium project.  If it is, there is a three year warranty as to construction quality of the common areas, measured from sale of the first unit. However, in no event can the common area warranty period end less than two years after the unit owners obtain majority control of the association’s board  The warranty as to the units themselves is only one year, measured from sale of the unit in question.

If your home is not part of a condominium project, the Condo Act Warranty will not apply.  However, the Maryland Code §10-203 warranty applies to all newly constructed homes, and would likely cover any significant defects.  Keep in mind, though, that the warranty period under the statutory §10-203 warranty is only two years for structural defects and one year for other defects.

Q. HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE TO ENFORCE MY STATUTORY WARRANTY RIGHTS?

A. Under the Condo Act, notice to the developer during the warranty period is required.  Additionally, proceedings to enforce the Condo Act warranty must be commenced within one year after expiration of the warranty period. This means that for defects in condominium common areas, the enforcement period will be no less than four years from sale of the first unit, and possibly longer, depending on when the unit owners obtain majority control of the association board.

For homes not covered by the Condo Act, the enforcement period for the §10-203 warranty is two years from expiration of the warranty period, or two years from “discovery” of the defects, whichever is less.

Q. ARE THERE LIMITATIONS ON THE §10-203 STATUTORY WARRANTY?

A. Yes.  The warranty doesn’t apply to defects that should have been apparent to a purchaser at the time of purchase.  Also, the developer may exclude or disclaim the §10-203 statutory warranty by appropriate language in the sales agreement if the sales agreement is entered into after completion of the dwelling.

Q. WHAT RIGHTS DO PURCHASERS HAVE UNDER COUNTY WARRANTY PROGRAMS?

A. The only Maryland County which has a warranty ordinance of which we are aware is Montgomery County.  If the defect is covered by the Montgomery County warranty, the county will enforce the warranty against the developer, and will actually pay the cost of repair if the developer refuses to correct the defect.

However, the Montgomery County warranty provides limited protection because of the relatively short duration of the warranty. The warranty period is five years, but only for defects that have resulted in actual failure of a structural component that has made the dwelling unsafe, unsanitary or uninhabitable.

The warranty period for defects in the plumbing heating and cooling systems of the dwelling is two years. 

The warranty period for all other defects is only one year.  And since most defects tend to involve water intrusion issues, this means most defects will be subject to that very short one year warranty period. And the Montgomery County warranty will not apply in any event unless the builder is given notice of the warranty breach within 30 days after expiration of the warranty period.

Additionally, the Montgomery County warranty doesn’t apply to condominium common areas, limited use common areas (balconies, for example) or to any part of a condo building over four stories in height.

Q. WHAT RIGHTS DO MARYLAND HOMEOWNERS HAVE UNDER THE MARYLAND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT?

A. If a defect is significant, the existence of that defect is a material fact.  And if that defect was or should have been known to the developer during construction or at any other time prior to sale of the dwelling, sale of the dwelling without disclosing the defect may violate the Consumer Protection Act. 

Q. AT WHAT POINT WILL A HOMEOWNER LOSE HIS OR HER STATUTORY RIGHTS?

A. Condo Act warranty rights are lost unless notice of the defect is given to the developer within the warranty period and legal proceedings to enforce them are commenced within one year after expiration of the warranty period.

While the §10-203 warranty does not require notice to the builder within the warranty period, it does requires that legal proceedings to enforce the §10-203 warranty be commenced within two years after expiration of the warranty or within two years of “discovery” of the defect, whichever is first.

An action under the Consumer Protection Act must be commenced within three years after the violation was or should have been discovered.

Q. WHAT IF THE DEVELOPER ENTITY HAS NO ASSETS?

A. The fact that a developer entity no longer has tangible assets doesn’t necessarily mean a

claimant cannot obtain a recovery.  Most developers have liability insurance, and the insurance may cover some or all of a developer’s construction defect liability. Also, the developer’s contractors may have assets, and those contractors’ own insurance policies may cover some or all of their liability for the defects.

Q. WILL YOUR LAW FIRM HANDLE A CLAIM ON A CONTINGENT FEE BASIS?

A. Depending on the strength of the case, yes.

Q. IF YOUR LAW FIRM AGREES TO HANDLE A CASE, WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING THE EXPERT FEES AND OTHER COSTS?

A It depends on the terms of our attorney-client agreement.  However, we normally seek to recover on the client’s behalf some or all of those expert fees and costs from the developer. If we include a claim that the developer’s conduct violated the Consumer Protection Act, we would also include a claim for an award of attorney fees to our client, as under that Act the court has the power to make an attorney fee award to a prevailing plaintiff. 

Q. WILL A CLAIM BE DECIDED BY A JURY?

A A claimant will have a right to a jury trial unless there is an enforceable arbitration clause in sales agreements or other applicable documents requiring the arbitration of all claims.  However, most claims are resolved before trial because most claims settle before the scheduled trial date.

Q. WILL YOUR FIRM CHARGE FOR AN INITIAL CONSULTATION?

A. No