A new Florida law went into effect on July 1, 2017 to clarify the start of the limitations period on construction claims. Under the old Florida law, construction defect suits had to be brought within four years from the end of the project, meaning the clock for the statute of limitations for construction defects typically started when the owner took possession of the property, when a certificate of occupancy was issued, or when the contract was terminated or completed. If the defect was latent, hidden, or unable to be ascertained, the time frame for the statute of limitations begins on the date the defect was discovered or should have reasonably been discovered with due diligence, up to an absolute limit of 10 years (known as the statute of repose).
The old Florida law created a loophole as “completion of contract” was not defined in specific terms. If an owner never made final payment, then the statute of limitations for construction defects could have been extended indefinitely. The new law sheds light on the “completion of contract” language by defining it as “…the later of the date of final performance of all the contracted services or the date that final payment for such services becomes due without regard to the date final payment is made.” This effectively removed an owner’s ability to allow the statute of limitations to be extended indefinitely.
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