Amendment Adds Clarity to Florida's Construction Statutes of Limitations and Repose
By: Timothy N. Bench
06.20.17On June 14, 2017, Florida’s Governor signed into law House Bill 377, which seeks to provide clarity to when Florida’s construction statutes of limitations and repose begin to run. The existing version of the statute, § 95.11(3)(c), Florida Statutes, provides that both the limitations period and the repose period begin to run when the later of certain specified events occurs:
- Actual possession by the owner; or
- The date of issuance of a certificate of occupancy; or
- The abandonment of construction if not completed; or
- The date of completion or termination of the contract between the professional engineer, registered architect or licensed contractor, and his or her employer, or
- Regarding the 4-year limitations period only, if the defect is latent, when the defect is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.
By amending the statute, the Florida Legislature has sought to prevent the purpose of the statute from being circumvented in this way, by providing a definition for when a contract is “completed.” The amended version of the statute provides that:
Completion of the contract means 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.While not a perfect solution, the amendment is certainly a significant improvement that should make it easier for litigants and their legal counsel to determine when a particular claim for construction defects is barred by the statute of limitations, or extinguished by the statute of repose.
The amendment will take effect July 1, 2017, and will apply to causes of action that accrue after that date.