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A warranty is a guarantee of the quality of a product or service.

Manufacturer/Material Warranties. The manufacturer (of paint, for example) will warrant that their product is free of manufacturing defects and will perform as advertised if properly applied to a surface. Accordingly, it's very important that associations specify in their painting contracts that the painter follows the manufacturer's specifications for cleaning the surfaces and applying the paint. Manufacturer warranties for roofs, paints, etc., will vary depending on the product. They can be as short as one year or as long as 20 years or more. Boards should receive written warranties at the end of the project.

Contractor Workmanship Warranties. Contractors should warrant that their work will be of good workmanship and free of defect. The contract should specify how long the contractor warrants his/her work and how defects are handled. Workmanship warranties are often shorter than material warranties.

Express versus Implied. Written warranties are explicit or "express" warranties. In addition, there are certain "implied" warranties if the contract does not disclaim them. The most common is good workmanship.

Remedies for Breach. Contractors who breach their warranties are liable. The measure of damages that an association may recover is generally the cost of repair. There may be other damages available depending on the circumstances. Claims for breach of contract/warranty must be timely, or they will be barred by applicable statutes of limitation.

NOTE: The "Warranty of Habitability" does not apply to homeowner associations:

Our Supreme Court recognized in  Green v. Superior Court (1974) 10 Cal.3d. 616, 629 that there is a warranty of habitability implied by law into every residential lease. “The implied warranty of habitability recognizes ‘the realities of the modern urban landlord-tenant relationship’ and imposes upon the landlord the obligation to maintain leased dwellings in a habitable condition throughout the term of the lease.” (Peterson v. Superior Court (1995) 10 Cal.4th 1185, 1204.)

Chapman contends that because it is not Violette’s landlord, and has not entered into any residential lease agreement with her, there is no basis for the law to infer it could be bound by a warranty of habitability. Violette responds that Chapman can be held liable as a “landlord” on her cause of action for breach of the implied warranty of habitability because “a condominium or homeowners’ association is ‘held to a landlord’s standard of care as to the common areas under its control.’ ” (Citing  Frances T. v. Village Green Owners Assn. (1986) 42 Cal.3d 490, 499-500.)

Violette’s argument conflates the elements of tort liability for negligence with the elements of contractual liability for breach of an implied term in a lease. While it is true that “[t]raditional tort principles impose on landlords, including homeowners associations, that function as landlords in maintaining the common areas of a large condominium complex, a duty to exercise due care for the residents’ safety in those areas under their control” ( Ritter & Ritter, Inc. Pension & Profit Plan v. The Churchill Condominium Assn. (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 103, 119-120), that does not establish that a homeowners association would be obliged to warrant that the common areas under its control are “habitable,” or to assume any separate responsibility to warrant the habitability of the individual dwelling unit that it neither owns nor leases to the tenant. [Violette v. Chapman Townhomes, Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 3, (Filed 07/18/2019) Unpublished Case]

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