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Converting apartments into condominiums helps many buyers reach the first rung on the homeownership ladder, but that step can come at the expense of buying a home that may be twenty or even thirty years old. These homes may be rife with original construction defects.
Since 2000, there have been 4,530 condominium conversions in Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties alone. Many of these units were sold without the required disclosures. In California, Civil Code §1134 governs what disclosure is required when a unit is converted from an apartment to a condominium.
California Civil Code § 1134 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 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.
"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. 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.
We have handled dozens of these type cases and have yet to see one condominium converter actually comply with Civil Code 1134. Most converters simply convert the building on paper, paint the interior of the units and sell them at a huge profit.
Condominium conversion cases are run just like a typical construction defect case. See Claim Development for more information. We test and inspect the units and common areas for “substantial defects and malfunctions”. In every one of our conversions cases, we did find substantial defects. Most of the converted buildings were built in the eighties and nineties when poor construction was extremely common.
If you bought a converted unit, give us a call or send us an e-mail to discuss your rights. Fortunately, even though the building may be more that ten years old, you may still have substantial rights.
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