Who Has to Pay for Repairs to Roads and Drainage: HOA or Developer?

That is the question being considered by the Florida Supreme Court in SC10-2292/2336 in Maronda Homes v. Lakeview Reserve HOA. Arguments were heard in early December and no opinion date has been set.

The Lakeview Reserve HOA sued Maronda Homes, the developer, for drainage issues and potholes in the roads. Although the HOA lost its initial suit, the Florida 5th District Court of Appeals decided the developer should be held accountable and the case was moved to the Supreme Court.

This case has the interest of many parties on both sides of the claim; those who believe the developer should be accountable for common area defects and those who believe claims by homeowners should end at the “door”.

Historically, homeowners have failed to win claims unless the common area defect actually “pierced” the structure of the home and this lack of case law may prompt the SC to overturn the decision of the 5th DCA. If not, this win for the HOA will certainly prompt more suits against developer/builders for common area defects.

Regardless of the ultimate courts opinion, developers should take heed of the 5th DCA ruling. The likelihood of additional claims by HOA’s for similar claims are increasing and, in my opinion, will be upheld at some point. Developers routinely rely upon poorly documented proof of compliance to specifications for site drainage, utilities and roadway construction. The engineer of record may not have been paid to inspect the work or the developer relied upon the local building department to verify utility construction. The contractors provide a one year warranty on workmanship and many times it will cost a considerable sum to prove their work alone lead to the damage.

Developers and builders should take this case as a warning and take steps to obtain independent inspection of the work product for the site development.

We have many years of experience in site development and utility construction. Please call us if you are seeking inspection protection for your site development.