Statute of Repose Bars Claim for Implied Warranty of Habitability

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has held that the statute of repose applies to a claim for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.

Homeowners bought a house directly from they builder in 1997. In 2012, the homeowners discovered water infiltration and resulting damage. This was confirmed by a detailed investigation in 2013, when the homeowners were told that it would be necessary to remove and replace the sheathing and siding on one entire side of the house.

A lawsuit was filed in 2016, and the builder moved to dismiss the complaint based on the RI statute of repose. The homeowners defended, arguing that the statute of repose should not apply to the implied warranty of habitability.

The RI Supreme Court noted: “providing original homeowners with the added benefit of a claim for breach of the implied warranty that potentially extends in perpetuity would be inconsistent with the public policy [enunciated in prior cases applying the statute of repose to tort claims].” Thus, “any homeowner has a period of ten years following substantial completion of improvement to real property to discover a latent defect.”

So the homeowners’ lawsuit filed in 2016 was barred by the 10-year statute of repose. The case is Mondoux v. Vanghel, 2021 R.I. LEXIS 2 (Jan. 27, 2021).