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California Condominium Conversions

 

Since the year 2000, there have been more than 6,000 apartment units converted to condominiums in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and San Diego Counties. While condominium conversions help apartment renters become owners, many of the units converted and sold have included substantial construction defects. Some of these defects originated with the original constructions; others originated from the converter’s poor quality renovation. While some defects may be found in individual converted condominium units, the vast majority are common area defects, including but not limited to roofs, decks, flashing systems, plumbing, electrical, drainage, and paving.

California Civil Code Section 1134, which is set forth below in its entirety, states that as soon as practicable before transfer of title for the first sale of a unit in a residential condominium, which was converted from an existing dwelling to a condominium project, the owner or subdivider shall deliver to a prospective buyer a written statement listing all substantial defects or malfunctions in the major systems in the units and common areas, or a written statement disclaiming the knowledge of any substantial defects or malfunctions. The disclaimer may be delivered only after the owner or subdivider has inspected the units and the common areas and has not discovered a substantial defect or malfunction, which a reasonable inspection would have disclosed. “Major systems” include, but are not limited to, the roof, walls, floors, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical systems or components of a similar or comparable nature, and recreational facilities. Any person who willfully fails to carry out the requirements of this section shall be liable in the amount of actual damages suffered buy the buyer.

Our firm has represented plaintiffs in numerous construction defect cases in California and has never seen a condominium converter comply with California Civil Code Section 1134. Unfortunately, the vast majority of developers who convert apartments to condominiums simply make cosmetic improvements, often ignoring important building components, in order to maximize their profits. While we do not object to developers earning a profit, we do object to developers selling homes to buyers that contain defects that have been covered up or not disclosed.

California Civil Code Section 1134

1134

(a) As soon as practicable before transfer of title for the first sale of a unit in a residential condominium, community apartment project, or stock cooperative which was converted from an existing dwelling to a condominium project, community apartment project, or stock cooperative, the owner or subdivider, or agent of the owner or subdivider, shall deliver to a prospective buyer a written statement listing all substantial defects or malfunctions in the major systems in the unit and common areas of the premises, or a written statement disclaiming knowledge of any such substantial defects or malfunctions. The disclaimer may be delivered only after the owner or subdivider has inspected the unit and the common areas and has not discovered a substantial defect or malfunction which a reasonable inspection would have disclosed.
   
(b) If any disclosure required to be made by this section is delivered after the execution of an agreement to purchase, the buyer shall have three days after delivery in person or five days after delivery by deposit in the mail, to terminate his or her agreement by delivery of written notice of that termination to the owner, subdivider, or agent. Any disclosure delivered after the execution of an agreement to purchase shall contain a statement describing the buyer's right, method and time to rescind as prescribed by this subdivision.
(c) For the purposes of this section:
   
(1) "Major systems" includes, but is not limited to, the roof, walls, floors, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical systems or components of a similar or comparable nature, and recreational facilities.
   
(2) Delivery to a prospective buyer of the written statement required by this section shall be deemed effected when delivered personally or by mail to the prospective buyer or to an agent thereof, or to a spouse unless the agreement provides to the contrary. Delivery shall also be made to additional prospective buyers who have made a request therefore in writing.
   
(3) "Prospective buyer" includes any person who makes an offer to purchase a unit in the condominium, community apartment project, or stock cooperative.
   
(d) Any person who willfully fails to carry out the requirements of this section shall be liable in the amount of actual damages suffered by the buyer.
   
(e) Nothing in this section shall preclude the injured party from pursuing any remedy available under any other provision of law.
   
(f) No transfer of title to a unit subject to the provisions of this chapter shall be invalid solely because of the failure of any person to comply with the requirements of this section.
   
(g) The written statement required by this section shall not abridge or limit any other obligation of disclosure created by any other provision of law or which is or may be required to avoid fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in the transaction.
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 





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