The Florida Supreme Court recently handed down a ruling that increased the potential liability of developers and home builders throughout Florida for shoddy infrastructure work. A homeowner’s association in Orange County sued its developer, Maronda Homes of Florida, because of streets cracking, driveways sinking, storm drains collapsing, lawns eroding and retention ponds overflowing in its gated subdivision.
During the litigation, evidence showed that the pipes and drainage were defective. Maronda agreed that there was a problem, but denied financial responsibility for repairs to common areas based upon past court decisions that denied liability beyond the homeowner’s doors. The trial court agreed with Maronda that it was not liable for these defects on the common areas because they had been deeded to the HOA, thereby eliminating a claim for “implied warranty of habitability.”
The Fifth District Court of Appeal, which is located in Daytona Beach, reversed the trial court’s decision, siding with the HOA. The Florida Supreme Court agreed with the Fifth DCA, saying homeowners should not have to wait for their homes to flood or become uninhabitable before making a joint claim through the HOA. The justices ruled that homeowners rely upon the expertise of the Developer to ensure that the drainage and underground piping are properly designed and installed. As a result, the justices ruled that a warranty of habitability is implied, or else no certificates of occupancy would ever be issued for homes. The Supreme Court also admonished the Florida Legislature for passing a law that tried to shield Maronda retroactively.
Contact Rice & Rose if you with any of your homeowner association’s issues.