For condominium developers and associations, litigation is almost an inevitability. From construction defect litigation and contract disputes to foreclosure actions against homeowners, developers and associations face litigation risks in virtually all aspects of their operations. Here are some of the most common issues and causes of action in condominium litigation:
Construction-Related Condominium Litigation
1. Construction Defects
Construction defects are among the most-common causes of action in condominium litigation. From failure to meet local building code requirements to negligent window or roof installation leading to water intrusion, there are countless construction defects that can lead to costly, and potentially-dangerous, issues.
2. Contract Disputes
Disputes with contractors, subcontractors, engineers, architects and other parties involved in the construction process will often lead to condominium litigation. While payment and performance (or non-performance) disputes are perhaps most common, warranty claims, indemnification claims and other contract-based claims are all common as well.
3. Professional Malpractice
Malpractice is a specific type of negligence-based claim involving allegations of substandard service by architects, engineers and other professionals. When a faulty condominium design leads to structural or other issues, the developer and association may be entitled to seek remedies for professional malpractice.
4. Implied Warranties
In addition to express contractual warranties, condominium construction projects and building materials may be subject to certain implied warranties as well. Assuming that these implied warranties have not been validly disclaimed (which is not always a safe assumption), they can provide additional causes of action for developers and associations.
5. Fraud, Deceptive Trade Practices and Other Claims
Depending upon the circumstances involved, developers and associations can potentially have a variety of other causes of action as well. From fraud and deceptive trade practices to surety bond issues and products liability, when considering legal action against a contractor, subcontractor or other provider, it is critical to assess all potential causes of action and assert the strongest possible case for recovery.
Litigation Involving Condo Associations and Homeowners
1. Responsibility for Common Elements
While condominium declarations should ordinarily include clear provisions regarding liability for common elements, it is not unusual for disputes over the definition of certain common elements to arise.
2. Accountings and Financial Disclosures
Generally speaking, condominium associations are required to provide accountings and certain other financial disclosures to the owners of individual units. Failure to do so, or alleged failure to provide full and accurate disclosure, is a common issue in condo litigation.
3. Liens and Foreclosures
When homeowners fail to pay dues or other amounts due to the association, the association will – subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions – have the right to place a lien on the owner’s unit and eventually foreclose on the property. Developers can face foreclosure actions for unsold units and shelf condominiums as well, often creating complex and challenging situations for associations and residents.
Contact the Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Attorneys at Michael L. Feinstein, P.A.
The attorneys at Michael L. Feinstein, P.A. represent condominium developers, associations and other parties in complex litigation involving properties throughout South Florida. If you are anticipating or facing a dispute and would like to speak with an attorney, please call (954) 767-9662 or contact us online today.