Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.

Protect valuable property rights in the event of construction defects and the resulting damage to your condominium or townhome project.

Washington D.C.

The purchasers of condo units in DC, and their associations, are protected against structural defects under a statutory warranty provided by the developer under the DC Condo Act, and “structural defects” are broadly defined. The warranty period is two years. That period starts to run as to each unit when that unit is first sold by the developer. It starts to run as to the common areas when the first unit is sold.
While the warranty period is only two years, a claimant has five years from when the warranty period started to run in which to take legal action to enforce the warranty.

The developer of a condo project in DC is also required to post a surety bond in favor of the Mayor for 10% of the cost of construction to ensure compliance with that warranty. While that bond may secure compliance with the developer’s warranty obligation, this isn’t always the case.

The bond amount (10% of the construction costs) may prove to be insufficient to satisfy the claim. Also, the DC Municipal Government will intervene to enforce the surety bond only if the claimant submits a documented claim within that two year warranty period. Hidden defects may not become apparent during that short two year period. As a result, the claimant may not be able to meet the deadline date for submission of a claim under the bond.

However, condo owners and their associations are not limited to their statutory warranty rights under the DC Condo Act. They may also have “implied warranty rights” separate from their Condo Act warranty rights. And perhaps of greater significance, they have rights under the DC Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”), especially where the developer fails to disclose defects that should have been apparent to that developer during the course of construction.

Also, a court must make an attorney fee award in favor of a prevailing plaintiff in a CPA action but usually cannot make an attorney fee award in favor of the developer even if the plaintiff fails to win. The risk of a substantial attorney fee award against a developer if the matter goes to trial gives the developer a strong incentive to settle a CPA claim as early in the dispute resolution process as possible.

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.