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Ask an Expert: Is it too late to sue my sponsor?

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Q.  I live in a condo with construction defects.  It has been a little over 3 years, and the condo board has been in discussion with the sponsor and developer about these problems, but nothing has been legally and officially filed with them. Is it too late for me to file something against the sponsor on my own?

A.  That depends, in part, on what sort of defects you are talking about, say our experts.

“If the defects are in the common elements, it is up to the board to bring an action,” says real estate attorney Robert Braverman.  “If, on the other hand, there are problems in the unit—such as floors, fixtures or appliances—then the owner may have a claim against the sponsor which may or may not be time-barred.”

Claims based on the sponsor’s negligence, for instance, have a three-year statute of limitations.

“Negligence is the primary claim rely on in these cases,” says attorney Jeffrey Reich.  However, he says, it’s not too late to sue for breach of contract.

“Claims based on breach of contract have a six-year statute of limitations,” says Reich. “If the writer’s purchase contract required the developer to deliver a unit free from defects, the writer would have a viable claim.  Additionally, if the writer’s unit is located in a building that is five stories or less, there may be claims under the statutory housing merchant implied warranty that may apply and for which there is a six year period.”

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