Archive for August 2013

NYC’s Department of Buildings Sued for Modular-Units Work

August 12, 2013

Two licensed trade groups in New York City filed a suit against the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) over the agency’s approval of work on prefabricated building units for a 32-story residential tower that is part of the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. The two groups- Mechanical Contractors Association of New York and the Plumbing Foundation City of New York- allege that off-site work done in a factory without supervision of licensed plumbers and fire suppression contractors violates Construction Code requirements.

The groups assert that the majority of the work is being installed off-site and not being completed by licensed firms. The DOB has responded stating the plumbing and fire-suppression systems must meet building-code standards and licensed tradesmen are required to install the systems at a construction site, regardless of where the parts are assembled. An estimated 60% of the work on the residential tower is done in a factory.

This Blog is made available by Laurie & Brennan, LLP for general educational purposes only. The purpose of the Blog is not to provide specific legal advice on any particular matter. By using this Blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and this firm and the authors or members of the firm. This Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. Under rules applicable to the professional conduct of attorneys in various jurisdictions, the material on this Blog may be considered advertising material.

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Appellate Court Narrowly Construes Illinois Residential Real Property Act and Concludes Legislature Did Not Intend Disclosure Requirement to be Comprehensive

August 7, 2013

The Illinois Appellate Court has added a new layer of specificity and has supported a very narrow interpretation of portions of the Illinois Residential Property Disclosure Act (the “Act”).  In Kalkman v. Nedved, 2013 IL App (3d) 120800, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed a trial court ruling for plaintiff homeowners and in favor of the defendant sellers of a lakefront home in Knox county.  The court found the legislature’s narrow construction the Act, as well as the ordinary meaning of “wall,” persuasive.  Thus it was not necessarily implied that “windows and doors” were included within the legislature’s concept of “walls.”

Before selling their home to plaintiffs, the defendants executed a disclosure report pursuant to section 35 of the Act.  The disclosure report contained 23 listed items which called for the sellers to disclose whether they knew of a specified material defect or other condition in the home.  The defendants answered in the negative for all 23 items – including item 6 – which read, “I am aware of material defects in the walls or floors.”  After the sale was finalized, the plaintiffs quickly discovered a variety of leaks in the windows and doors.  The plaintiffs filed a complaint against the defendants claiming a violation of the Act and common law fraud.  The trial court concluded that the legislative intent of the Act –protecting buyers of residential property from hidden defects – should be interpreted broadly.  The trial court determined that defects in windows and doors were required to be disclosed under the provision governing disclosure of defects in walls, and ruled in favor of plaintiffs.

On appeal, the Appellate Court focused on the statutory construction of the Act.  The court noted that none of the 23 items specifically addressed doors or windows; in addition, the statute has no “catch-all” item asking sellers to disclose defects not specifically listed.  The Appellate Court found that the absence of such a catch-all provision implies that the legislature did not intend for the windows or doors of a residential property to be covered by the Act’s disclosure report.  As further support of its reading, the Appellate Court examined the plain meaning of “wall” as defined by Random House Dictionary, finding their definition of a wall, as well as common usage, excludes windows and doors.  The Appellate Court narrowly construed the statutory language and therefore held that a seller’s obligation to disclose defects in the property’s walls did not also include an obligation to disclose defects in the windows or doors.  The trial court’s judgment was reversed and remanded.

While we continue to monitor whether the Illinois Supreme Court will weigh in on this decision, the Kalkman ruling will undoubtedly cause both buyers and sellers of residential real estate to take a much closer look at the disclosure statements and representation required under the Act.

This Blog is made available by Laurie & Brennan, LLP for general educational purposes only. The purpose of the Blog is not to provide specific legal advice on any particular matter. By using this Blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and this firm and the authors or members of the firm. This Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. Under rules applicable to the professional conduct of attorneys in various jurisdictions, the material on this Blog may be considered advertising material.


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