Thanks to all of the members of the Chesapeake Region Chapter of the Community Associations Institute who helped make the 2014 Annual Symposium & Expo a well- attended success. Ober Kaler was proud to serve as an event sponsor, and to also sponsor a bus so that Eastern Shore members could attend the October 21 event at Martin’s West in Baltimore County. Special thanks to all those whos stopped by the Ober Kaler table and discussed this blog.
I recently tried a construction defect case in which I was able to secure a significant jury award on behalf of the owners of a townhome in Montgomery County in a claim involving faulty construction and unfair and deceptive trade practices under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act. I represented Subhash and Rita Dhawan in a suit against the builder of their home, Churchill Group at Maxwell Square, Inc. The suit alleged construction defects discovered several years after the purchase, and was based on claims of negligence, breach of contract, and violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (CPA). They were awarded more than $400,000 in damages which included expert consultant costs and more than $300,000 in legal fees. (more…)
For most individuals, the purchase of a new house or condominium unit is the largest investment that they will have ever made. Moreover, that investment is also a home and place of refuge and relaxation that they share with family and friends. Few things, therefore, have the potential to be more disturbing than the discovery of construction defect issues that diminish both the enjoyment of the home and its value. For that reason, new home purchasers in Maryland are afforded various protections in the form of statutory warranties. They also may receive specific warranties from the seller as part of their purchase agreement. Additionally, homebuyers may have other statutory and common law rights of action that arise as a result of construction deficiencies. However, none of these possible remedies provides a certain or easy path to relief. All such claims are governed by strict statutes of limitations that require considerable diligence or order to preserve the intended benefits. Pursuing claims is also an expensive and often protracted process that, in addition to the retention of capable legal counsel, also requires the involvement of building consultants who can identify defects, recommend repairs, and offer opinion evidence to support the claim.
In response to various comments and questions some of you have been kind enough to share on this blog, I am going to be authoring a series of posts that address some of these issues, as they relate to condominium and new home warranties, homeowner association warranties, seller’s warranties, contract claims, and common law causes of action. These matters will be addressed from the standpoint of both associations and individual owners. In the meantime, if there are any issues along these lines that are of particular interest, please feel free to send a comment.
An important consideration of nearly all purchasers of residential condominium units is the fact that a condominium provides the advantages of home ownership without the time-consuming and laborious tasks that are an expected part of maintaining a house and property. After all, exterior maintenance is taken care of by the association. But that does not mean that maintenance and repair issues are something with which condominium owners need not be concerned. On the contrary, there are several reasons why building issues should be matters of extreme urgency in a condominium setting.
It is important to first understand the condominium form of ownership. The purchaser buys a unit that is owned in the same way that an individual home would be owned, but also receives an ownership interest, in common with all other owners, in the common elements of the complex. Each owner’s property, therefore, includes all of the common elements in addition to their unit. This means that maintenance and repair issues in the common elements effect the value, maintainability, and useful life of every owner’s property. (more…)
When mold was discovered in part of the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu, it ultimately resulted in the closing for more than a year of an entire 453-room 25-story tower. It is reported that Hilton spent some $20 Million on consulting and investigation costs, and an additional $35 Million in the remediation. This is one notable example among many of how the presence and growth of mold in homes and commercial buildings has developed into a serious issue that has potentially far reaching consequences for residential and commercial property owners and managers, as well as for the construction and insurance industries.
Several states have established task forces to study mold and its effect on buildings and indoor air quality. However, the intelligent dialogue required for the development of proper standards for mold exposure and remediation has, in large part, been drowned out by extreme voices. On the one hand are those who summarily dismiss the issue as the fabricated product of a conspiracy between tort lawyers and a developing cottage industry of mold remediation consultants. On the other are those readily prepared to broadly attribute a wide variety of medical conditions to the unhealthy environment of “sick buildings.” (more…)