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The buyers of new condominium units and their homeowner or condominium associations can obtain relief for defects like leaky roofs, leaking windows, bad flashing, building envelope problems, water infiltration, mold, violations of the construction codes and other construction defects.

Warranty Claims

  • Many homes sold in Maryland come with a contractual warranty under the Maryland Real Property Code §10-604. A builder who offers no warranty must disclose that fact.  Maryland law also requires builders to disclose any surety bond or other financial security available to guarantee assets to satisfy warranty claims.
  • Contractual warranties usually cover all defects for one year, defects in major systems for two years, and structural defects for five years. Vendors may also create contractual warranties by representations made prior to sale. Additional contractual warranties may also be made on particular components such as roofs, windows or HVAC units.  Contractual warranties must be examined in detail to determine the rights of the homeowner.
  • There is a statutory implied warranty (§10-203) under Maryland law by the developer of a newly constructed home or condominium that the home is
    • Free from faulty materials
    • Constructed according to sound engineering standards
    • Constructed in a workmanlike manner; and
    • Fit for habitation – typically this includes a warranty that it complies with applicable building codes
  • The implied warranty period for the absence of structural defects is two years.  For all other defects, the warranty period is one year.
  • A warranty claim must be brought within two years of discovery of the defect. For hidden defects, this may be as long as twenty years after the sale of the last condominium unit. Such statute of limitations questions can be quite technical and fact specific.  They should be examined by an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
  • Maryland law forbids a number of clauses that builders or developers may attempt to include in contracts with home or condominium purchasers or in the by-laws and declarations applicable to condominium associations. Any language purporting to limit an implied warranty, attempting to exclude consequential damages, or attempting to negate an express warranty made during the building construction or sale process should be examined by an experienced attorney.
  • Condominium associations may assert claims for itself, or on behalf of two or more unit owners. Any language in documents governing condo associations that purports to limit the ability of the condominium association to assert claims should be examined by an experienced attorney.
  • Condominium associations and unit owners may have additional warranty claims under the Maryland Condominium Act. Maryland Real Property Code §11-131.  Additional warranties may apply under the Maryland Homeowners Association Act or the Cooperative Housing Corporations Act.
  • Local jurisdictions may also require specific warranties for new home or condominium construction.
  • Maryland consumers may also recover attorneys fees, incidental expenses and similar costs if a contractor refuses to honor a warranty on home repairs or other service contracts.  Md Comm Code 14-407.

Consumer Protection Act Claims

Md. Com Law Code §13-105 et seq.

The Maryland Consumer Protection Act (CPA) may offer more relief than is available in warranty claims.  A prevailing consumer can recover attorneys’ fees and costs in addition to damages or other relief from unfair practices by the seller, builder or developer.  Maryland offers consumers who purchase real estate – whether single family homes, condominium units, apartment leases, or condominium associations – broad protections against potentially deceptive representations, or a failure to disclose defects that were known or should have been known.  Some defects, such as significant violations of applicable building codes or engineering standards that render a residence uninhabitable should be known to a reasonable builder.  Specifically, the CPA provides relief if the seller or buider:

  • Represents that consumer realty is of a particular standard, quality, grade, style, model or other characteristic when it is not;
  • Makes any misleading statement that misleads a reasonable consumer;
  • Fails to state a material fact whose omission tends to mislead;
  • Uses a contract clause that purports to exclude claims for consequential damages;

Consumer Protection Act claims must be brought within three years after discovery of the deceptive or unfair practice.  Claims for hidden or latent defects may be available as long as ten or even twenty years after the transaction during which potentially deceptive acts occurred.  Limitations questions are complex and fact specific and should be examined in consultation with a competent attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions Maryland

A. It depends on several factors

The Maryland Code §10-203 implied 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.

If your home is part of a condominium project.  If it is, there is your homeowners association may also have a three year warranty as to construction quality of the common areas.

Even after the warranty period, if you discover a hidden defect that existed during the warranty period, you may be able to assert the claim several years after the end of the warranty period.  You should consult an experienced lawyer to examine the facts of your case.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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If you have a claim of this kind, please call us at 202 288 5643 or complete this form below and one of our lawyers will contact you. No charge for the initial consultation.

    Did the seller disclose the defect(s)?
    Was a seller's real estate agent involved?
    The attorneys at the DC Consumer Law Group, PLLC are available to discuss your legal issues during an initial consultation without fee or obligation. All consultations with our attorneys are confidential. Should you decide to retain our law firm to provide legal services, we offer a variety of billing options including: hourly legal services; contingency fee representation based on the outcome of litigation in select cases; and hybrid arrangements customized to your needs.

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