House Eyes Changes in Construction Lawsuits

TALLAHASSEE — Florida House members Thursday began moving forward with a proposal that could shorten the time for residents to file lawsuits about construction defects in their homes.

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Rep. John Snyder, a Stuart Republican who is sponsoring the proposal (HB 85), said it would help address one of the “puzzle pieces” that contribute to a lack of affordable housing in the state. Supporters said the bill could help reduce costly litigation and insurance costs for contractors.

But opponents said it could leave residents picking up the tab for problems that they did not discover until years after homes were built.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 15-3 to approve the proposal, which is filed for the legislative session that will start March 7. Similar bills fueled debate during the 2022 session but did not pass.

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The most-controversial parts of the proposal deal with lawsuits about “latent” construction defects — essentially defects that can remain hidden from homeowners for years — and what is known in the legal world as a “statute of repose.”

Under current law, homeowners can file lawsuits about latent defects up to 10 years after they take possession of the property or other events occur, such as the issuance of certificates of occupancy, whichever happens later.

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