Minnesota’s Right to Repair Statute
As I write this from my home office in the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, the local T.V. station is live on air with nonstop coverage of another wild summer weather night here in Minnesota.
The news reports make me think back to Memorial Day weekend 2008, when my own home was battered with golf ball sized hail. Fortunately, I had a client who is an honest contractor to help me get my house back in shape. What happens, though, when you are not so lucky and your contractor does not do a good job?
Many years ago, Minnesota enacted a series of housing warranty statutes which include “home improvement” warranties. These statutes are codified at Chapter 327A of the Minnesota Statutes and provide for various remedies to a homeowner who believes that the work done by their contractor does not comply with applicable building standards.
In an effort to resolve some of these warranty issues without litigation, Minnesota enacted a “right to repair” statute in 2006. This statute requires that, in addition to a prior requirement that the homeowner give written notice to the contractor of the loss or damage, the homeowner must now allow the contractor the opportunity to inspect the property and make any necessary repairs. The contractor has thirty days from the date of the receipt of notice to inspect and offer to repair any damage, or to reject the homeowner’s claim by refusing to repair the damage.
For homeowners who believe that their contractor’s work is defective, care must be taken to promptly give written notice of the claimed defect and allow the contractor the opportunity to inspect and repair per the statute. An unpublished 2008 case from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, Fernandez v. Vargas, 2008 WL 4628506, held that the homeowner could not bring its case against the contractor prior to giving notice and an opportunity to inspect and repair per the statute.
For contractors who face a claim against them from a customer due to allegedly defective work, be mindful of your opportunity to inspect and repair such work.
I am currently working on a matter which highlights the benefit of the right to repair statute. In this case, the homeowner jumped the gun, ordered my client off the property and sought a refund of her deposit all based upon the opinion of a competing contractor (big surprise, right?) Our office promptly notified the homeowner of our client’s rights under the statute and now a proper inspection is scheduled to take place.
For those of you who after tonight need to hire a contractor to fix a roof, damaged siding, or replace some windows, and for the contractors who might be hired to perform such work, keep in mind Minnesota’s “right to repair” law.
NOTE: THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ENTRY DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT AN ATTORNEY FOR ADVICE REGARDING A PARTICULAR MATTER RELATED TO THE TOPICS DISCUSSED ABOVE.