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Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter
May 29, 2003
S. Printed 5/29/03--H.
Read the first time May 6, 2003.
TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING CHAPTER 47 TO TITLE 15 SO AS TO ENACT THE SOUTH CAROLINA NOTICE AND OPPORTUNITY TO CURE DWELLING CONSTRUCTION DEFECTS ACT TO ESTABLISH PROCEDURES FOR A HOMEOWNER OR PURCHASER TO ASSERT A CLAIM AGAINST A CONTRACTOR, SUBCONTRACTOR, SUPPLIER, OR DESIGN PROFESSIONAL FOR A CONSTRUCTION DEFECT IN A RESIDENTIAL DWELLING, TO REQUIRE A CLAIMANT TO COMPLY WITH THESE PROCEDURES BEFORE COMMENCING LITIGATION FOR A CONSTRUCTION DEFECT, AND TO PROHIBIT A PERSON FROM PROVIDING ANYTHING OF MONETARY VALUE TO A PROPERTY MANAGER OR A MEMBER OR OFFICER OF AN EXECUTIVE BOARD OF A HOMEOWNER'S ASSOCIATION TO INDUCE THE INDIVIDUAL TO ENCOURAGE OR DISCOURAGE THE ASSOCIATION TO FILE A CLAIM FOR CONSTRUCTION DEFECTS AND TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR SUCH VIOLATION.
Amend Title To Conform
Whereas, the General Assembly finds that South Carolina needs an alternative method to resolve legitimate construction disputes that would reduce the need for litigation, while adequately protecting the rights of homeowners; and
Whereas, the General Assembly declares that an effective alternative dispute resolution mechanism in certain construction defect matters should involve the claimant filing a notice of claim with the construction professional that the claimant asserts is responsible for the defect and providing the construction professional with the opportunity to resolve the claim without litigation. Now, therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Chapter 59, Title 40 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 40-59-810. This article may be cited as the 'South Carolina Notice and Opportunity to Cure Construction Dwelling Defects Act'.
Section 40-59-820. As used in this article:
(1) 'Action' means any civil lawsuit or action or arbitration proceeding for damages or indemnity asserting a claim for injury or loss to a dwelling or personal property caused by an alleged defect arising out of or related to the design, construction, condition, or sale of the dwelling or a remodel of a dwelling.
(2) 'Claimant' means a homeowner, including a subsequent purchaser, who asserts a claim against a contractor, subcontractor, supplier, or design professional concerning a defect in the design, construction, condition, or sale of a dwelling or in the remodel of a dwelling.
(3) 'Construction defect' means a deficiency in or a deficiency arising out of the design, specifications, surveying, planning, supervision, or observation of construction or construction of residential improvements that results from any of the following:
(a) defective material, products, or components used in the construction of residential improvements;
(b) violation of the applicable codes in effect at the time of construction of residential improvements;
(c) failure of the design of residential improvements to meet the applicable professional standards of care at the time of governmental approval of the design of residential improvements; or
(d) failure to construct residential improvements in accordance with accepted trade standards for good and workmanlike construction at the time of construction. Compliance with the applicable codes in effect at the time of construction conclusively establishes construction in accordance with accepted trade standards for good and workmanlike construction, with respect to all matters specified in those codes.
(4) 'Dwelling' means a single-family house or duplex or a multifamily unit not to exceed sixteen units and not to exceed three stories in height, and which is intended for residential use. A dwelling includes the systems and other components and improvements that are part of a single or multifamily unit at the time of construction.
(5) 'Serve' or 'service' means personal service or delivery by certified mail to the last known address of the addressee.
Section 40-59-830. If the claimant files an action in court before first complying with the requirements of this article, on motion of a party to the action, the court shall stay the action until the claimant has complied with the requirements of this article.
Section 40-59-840. (A) In an action brought against a contractor or subcontractor arising out of the construction of a dwelling, the claimant must, no later than ninety days before filing the action, serve a written notice of claim on the contractor. The notice of claim must contain the following:
(1) a statement that the claimant asserts a construction defect;
(2) a description of the claim or claims in reasonable detail sufficient to determine the general nature of the construction defect; and
(3) a description of any results of the defect, if known.
The contractor or subcontractor shall advise the claimant within fifteen days of receipt of the claim if the construction defect is not sufficiently stated and shall request clarification.
Section 40-59-850. (A) The contractor or subcontractor has thirty days from service of the notice to inspect, offer to remedy, offer to settle with the claimant, or deny the claim regarding the defects. The claimant shall receive written notice of the contractor's or subcontractor's, as applicable, election under this section. The claimant shall allow inspection of the construction defect at an agreeable time to both parties, if requested under this section. The claimant shall give the contractor and any subcontractors reasonable access to the dwelling for inspection and if repairs have been agreed to by the parties, reasonable access to affect repairs. Failure to respond within thirty days is deemed a denial of the claim.
(B) The claimant shall serve a response to the contractor's offer, if any, within ten days of receipt of the offer.
(C) If the parties cannot settle the dispute pursuant to this article, the claimant may proceed with an action in a court of competent jurisdiction.
(D) Any offers of settlement, repair, or remedy pursuant to this section, are not admissible in a court of law.
Section 40-59-860. (A) Nothing in this article applies to actions arising out of claims for personal injury or death, or both.
(B) Court Administration must develop a designation on the Civil Action Cover Sheet which indicates whether a one hundred twenty-day stay has been granted for a civil action filed pursuant to the South Carolina Notice and Opportunity to Cure Construction Defects Act."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor and applies to claims arising on or after this act's effective date.
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