Ohio Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Homeowners

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Ohio recently issued a favorable ruling for homeowners across the state.  The decision also benefits community associations facing unnecessary repairs as a result of poor construction practices by their developer. 

In Jones v. Centex Homes, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed a decision by the Tenth District Court of Appeals finding that homeowners may waive the builder’s obligation to construct the house properly in their purchase agreement.  The Court concluded that a homebuilder’s obligation to build in a workmanlike manner is a duty imposed by law that cannot be signed away by a homeowner in the fine print of a home purchase contract.  The Supreme Court went on to state that homebuilders do not have to be perfect, but they do have to construct houses “in a workmanlike manner using ordinary care.”

Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, developers often argued that community associations were barred from commencing a lawsuit for construction defects because each owner within the association had waived his or her right to sue in a purchase agreement.  Developers will no longer be able rely on this argument, as the Supreme Court clearly concludes that builders cannot insulate themselves from claims for poor workmanship by inserting a waiver provision in a homeowner’s purchase contract.  By eliminating a potential defense for developers engaged in shoddy construction practices, Ohio community associations stand to benefit from the Supreme Court’s recent decision.