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On July 1, 2024, the time frame to report construction defects in the state of Florida shifts from 10 years to seven years, as the grace period ends for Florida Senate Bill 360.

SB360 was signed into law last year by Gov. DeSantis. It effectively modifies Section 95.11(3)(c) (now designated as paragraph 3(b)), Florida Statutes, shortening the statute of repose for construction defect claims from 10 years to seven years.

The new law is said to offer greater protections to contractors and insurers by shortening their window of exposure to potential defect claims. Conversely, owners are left with less time to discover defects that often take years to manifest.

A statute of repose acts as a complete bar on claims after a certain period of time regardless of whether the claim (construction defects in this case) was or should have been discovered.

Recap of SB 360’s Other Impacts on Statutes of Limitations and Repose

SB 360 included a one-year grace period to bring claims barred by the new law, but which would have been allowed under the prior version of Section 95.11(3)(c). Any action commenced after July 1, 2024, will be subject to the new seven-year statute of repose.

The four-year statute of limitations for construction defect claims remains unchanged, but notably, the new law modified the events which trigger the statutes of limitations and repose to run. Importantly, the clock now begins running at the earliest of these events as opposed to the latest, as it did under the prior statute.

Prior triggering events: actual possession by the owner and the date of completion or termination of the subject contract, have been eliminated.

The new list of triggering events include:

  • the date of issuance of a temporary certificate of occupancy;
  • certificate of occupancy;
  • certificate of completion; or
  • the date construction is abandoned if not completed.

The statute of limitations for latent (hidden) defect claims remains subject to an exception, running from the time the defect is actually discovered or should have been discovered with due diligence.

However, regardless of the nature of the alleged defect or the timing of its discovery, all claims are barred after seven years, running from the earliest occurrence of any of these triggering events.

The Adams and Reese construction team in Florida will continue to monitor the fallout from SB360 and its effect on the state’s construction industry.

About Our Author

Lee Tomlinson is a member of one of the largest construction practices in the country with Adams and Reese’s roster of more than 80 attorneys serving the legal needs of the construction industry. An attorney in the firm’s Tampa office, Tomlinson’s construction practice primarily includes payment dispute issues, lien and bond claims, contract review and drafting, contract disputes, and construction defect litigation. Tomlinson is recognized by his peers among the Best Lawyers® “Ones to Watch” in Construction Law: Litigation and among Florida Super Lawyers® “Rising Stars” in Construction Litigation.