Georgia’s Right to Repair Act adds a number of additional steps that did not previously exist when filing a lawsuit. However, the aim of the program is to offer resolution options outside of the courtroom when a disagreement arises between a contractor and a homeowner.
Whether you are considering how the Right to Repair Act might affect your current or recently completed contract on your home, or if you are a contractor seeking to understand your responsibilities in the light of the law, it is important that you review what the Georgia Right to Repair Act accomplishes and how the process works.
What The Georgia Right To Repair Act Accomplishes
The intention of the act was to prevent lawsuits, forcing homeowners to proceed through a “claims” process outlined by the law that would prevent the dispute from being heard in a courtroom when possible.
The first step in the process requires contractors to inform the homeowner receiving the work of the content of the Act and explain what process is available to them by the Act in the event of a dispute of the contract. Contractors who fail to make this information available before any contract begins are in violation of the Right to Repair Act. It is mandatory that this information be presented conspicuously, and may be included within the contract.
Once the homeowners have been made aware of these rights, they may send a notice if the work was deficient, caused damage to their home or was not up to adequate standards. This “notice of claim,” differs from a lawsuit. Instead, the Georgia Right to Repair Act enacted this process in order to reduce the amount of litigation related to construction. It aims to reduce the burden to the court of construction cases, encouraging settlement outside of court.
The process delineated in the Right to Repair Act requires very stringent, specific pre-litigation actions by the homeowner in order to open a claim; it is important that all parties respond to their portion of the notice of claim in a timely and comprehensive manner.
What The Right To Repair Process Looks Like
The very first step in the Right to Repair process, as mentioned above, is the contractor’s duty to inform the homeowners of their rights. Contractors are responsible for sharing information about the Act with homeowners before work begins.
Simply telling the homeowners about the existence of the Act is not sufficient; it must be prominently written and must substantially explain that the individuals must notify their construction company a minimum of 90 days before filing a lawsuit.
If a homeowner elects to bring a complaint against a contractor for construction problems, the next step in the process is to send a Notice of Claim. Remember, a claim is not a lawsuit; instead, Georgia’s Right to Repair Act calls this process the “Notice of Claim” that is attempting to resolve the situation outside of a lawsuit context. Homeowners should act quickly after a construction defect has been noticed to send a Notice of Claim.
This “notice of claim” should include a detailed description of the issues with the construction or the damage incurred, as well as any relevant photographs. If pictures both before and after the work are available, these are ideal for inclusion. The notice of claim needs to be submitted at least 90 days before any attempt at a lawsuit is initiated.
After the notice has been submitted, the next step is to wait for the construction company to react to the information. Contractors have 30 days to respond to a notice of claim. Their response may vary, falling into three distinct possibilities; the first is that they may offer a settlement to resolve the claim by the homeowner. This may include refunding the total or partial cost of the work done on the home in a manner that is agreeable to the homeowner, combining some repayment with a proposal for repairs or another resolution. If the homeowner chooses to accept this resolution, the situation is resolved.
If not, the contractor may seek an outside evaluation of the defect by a third party. The function of this step is to gather information from an unbiased source about whether a defect or issue has actually occurred or whether the homeowner is bringing unreasonable expectations to bear on the situation. Presentation of the third party’s decision to the homeowner may serve to resolve the dispute.
Alternatively, after the construction company receives the notice of claim, they may choose simply to do nothing for the 30 days allotted to them.
No matter what type of response the company presented, the next step in the process is for the homeowners to make their own decision. They may accept the response provided by the contractor, whether that be a settlement or proof that the claim is unreasonable. If they do not accept the resolution proposed by the other party, or if the other party did not respond within the 30 days allotted to them, then the case may move to legal action.
Be aware that the homeowner must still provide in writing their reasons for rejecting the contractor’s resolution in cases in which the contractor did offer to settle. Before the case moves to litigation, the homeowner must explain the reasons why the contractor’s proposed resolution was not sufficient to remedy the damages incurred.
Once the right to repair act provisions has been satisfied, the case may then move to litigation. The conflict has now progressed out of the Right to Repair notice of claim system and may become a lawsuit.
The Georgia Right to Repair Act gives both contractors and homeowners multiple means of resolving a construction dispute before it ever reaches court. However, it is important to be aware of the stringent time limitations and detailed requirements guiding every step of the notice of claim process.
Failure to properly abide by the Right to Repair Act could impede or even prevent the ability to file a lawsuit later, which is why it is critical to correctly and carefully review the process as soon as an issue arises. This is why many individuals elect to seek advice from a legal professional who can ensure that the process goes as intended.
Challenges may arise on the homeowners’ side in terms of abiding with the Right to Repair regulations. For example, if the homeowner agrees to the construction company’s proposed remediation of the problem, the homeowner must grant prompt access to their home for repairs within 30 days of the offer being made.
After accounting for how long it may take for the offer to reach the homeowner, people being out of town and a number of other extenuating circumstances that could delay this process, some homeowners may find themselves on very tight deadlines throughout this process. Contractors must also respond timely to their portion of the process, which may be difficult with many workers out throughout the day on projects. The best resolution is for both parties to work together.
Right To Repair Protects Homeowners In Georgia
Whether you are a homeowner who is considering how to utilize the Right to Repair Act in Georgia to seek compensation for poor or damaging workmanship in your home or you are a contractor trying to understand your responsibilities to your clients in light of the Right to Repair Act, be sure to consult with an attorney who is experienced with this segment of the law. Both parties must be sure to be adequately informed.
If you would like to learn more about the Right to Repair Act and how it may affect you, the attorneys at KPPB LAW would be happy to help. Reach out to schedule a consultation.