Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 377 providing for revisions to the Florida statutes of limitation and repose governing construction claims. The new law revises Fla. Stat. Sec. 95.11 (Limitations Other Than for the Recovery of Real Property) to clear up some confusion regarding when the statutes of limitations and repose begin to run. Under the new language, Sec. 95.11(3)(c) defines the four-year statute of limitations period for construction and design claims as running from the “date of (a) actual possession by the owner, (b) the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, (c) the date of abandonment of construction if not completed, or (d) the completion or termination date of the contract, whichever date is latest.” However, with respect to latent defects discovered after the dates described above, the four-year limitations period runs from the discovery of the defect.

The new statute also provides that, regardless of when a construction or design defect claim is determined to accrue for purposes of the limitations period, the claim must be brought within “ten years after the date of (a) actual possession by the owner, (b) the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, (c) the date of abandonment of construction if not completed, or (d) the completion or termination date of the contract.” All construction claims must be brought within this 10-year statute of repose period.

The prior version of the statute did not define “completion date,” which created some ambiguity as to when the limitation and repose periods began to run for claims arising out of improvements to real property. The recently revised statute defines “completion date” as “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.” The revisions are intended to provide more clarity on the triggers for the applicable limitation or repose period. The added certainty should, hopefully, benefit all industry participants. The updated statute applies to all claims that accrue on or after July 1, 2017.