In Westlake View Condominium Association v. Sixth Avenue View Partners, LLC, __ Wn. App. __, __ P.3d __ (August 11, 2008), the Division I Court of Appeals addressed the standard at which builders of new residential dwellings must adhere to in order to avoid claims for breach of the implied warranty of habitability. The case involved the construction of a condominium building near Lake Union in Seattle.
The implied warranty of habitability applies only to builder-vendors of new residential dwellings. Previous cases had held that the implied warranty of habitability only required that the home be “structurally safe for the buyer’s intended purpose of living in it.” In this case, the Court of Appeals recognized that “the implied warranty of habitability does not cover alleged defects that involve mere defects in workmanship or aesthetic concerns.” However, the Court went on to say that “if the violations present a substantial risk of future danger, the implied warranty of habitability is a viable claim.” In this case, the Court of Appeals held that the allegations of mold caused by water intrusion at window sills, water damage that caused decay to decks surfaces, and cracks in the foundation, which may have been indicative of structural problems, constitute sufficient evidence to make a claim for the breach of the implied warranty of habitability.
This case represents the increasing standard in which builders of new residential homes must adhere. It is worth noting that the claim is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, but is only available to the first purchaser of a home against the seller if the seller is a “builder-vendor” (i.e. in the business of selling homes).