877-879-8776
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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. WHAT IS THE DEVELOPER’S LIABILITY FOR DEFECTS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF A CONDO PROJECT?

A. Under the D.C. Condo Act Warranty Provisions, a developer is strictly liable for structural defects in the project. And structural defects are broadly defined in the Act.

Q. WHAT LEGAL PROTECTION DO CONDO PURCHASERS HAVE UNDER THE D.C. CONSUMER PROTECTION PRACTICES ACT?

A. A developer is liable to a purchaser under that Act if the developer fails to disclose a material fact to a purchaser before selling a unit to that purchaser, at least where the developer knew or should have known of that fact. The existence of a significant defect is likely to be considered a material fact. Therefore, that fact must be disclosed to the purchaser, at least where that defect should have become apparent to the developer during construction, or at any later date prior to sale.

Q. WHAT ABOUT A SURETY’S LIABILITY UNDER THE SURETY BOND A DEVELOPER IS REQUIRED TO POST, ENSURING CONSTRUCTION IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE DEVELOPER’S CONDO ACT WARRANTY PROTECTING AGAINST STRUCTURAL DEFECTS?

A. That surety bond liability is in favor of the Mayor, and not necessarily in favor of purchasers. So unit owners may not acquire rights against the surety under that bond. However, the D.C. government may prosecute a claim against that surety if it chooses to do so, provided a unit owner or the condo association complies with the notice of claim provisions during the two year warranty period covered by the bond.

Q. HOW MUCH TIME DOES AN ASSOCIATION OR UNIT OWNER HAVE IN WHICH TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST THE DEVELOPER FOR DEFECTS IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PROJECT?

A. It depends on the basis for the developer’s liability and on the nature of the construction defect. If the basis for the developer’s liability is breach of the Condo Act Warranty against structural defects, the time period is 5 years, and as to common area defects, that 5 year period generally starts to run on sale of the first unit.

For structural defects in the units themselves, the time period for enforcement of the Condo Act Warranty is also 5 years, but that 5 year period starts to run separately on the sale of each unit.

Q. IS A SUCCESSFUL CLAIMANT ENTITLED TO AN ATTORNEY FEE AWARD?

A. There is no provision in the Condo Act for an attorney fee award in favor of the prevailing plaintiff. However, under the D.C. Consumer Protection Practices Act, a successful claimant under that Act has a right to receive an attorney fee award.

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