The Arizona Supreme Court's decision in Wilhelm v. Brewer that allows Prop. 201 to appear on the November ballot, is a huge win for Arizona homeowners and consumers in general. If passed by state voters, the measure will establish safeguards to protect homeowners and homebuyers from such problems as construction defects that can undermine the value, esthetics and security of a home.
Under Prop. 201, there would be a minimum 10-year warranty on new homes as well as mandatory disclosures of financial arrangements and pricing, and new rights on fixing home defects and returns of deposits when appropriate. Additionally, Prop. 201 would give aggrieved homeowners the right to choose among three other contractors with complaint-free records to fix any repairs that might be needed in the home. It would also rewrite the rules on attorney fees, thus allowing homeowners to sue without worry of being held responsible for builders' attorney costs.
Rebuffing plaintiffs claims that the petition to place Prop. 201 on the ballot was flawed due to certain technicalities, the Court, in upholding the lower court's decision, ruled that We do not believe . . . that the possibility that some people may favor modifying the constitutional and statutory laws for initiatives is a sufficient reason for us to abandon our long-established standard of substantial compliance under the laws as they now exist.
Because of current legal and regulatory challenges, iy's not uncommon for homeowners to choose to live with the defects rather than pursue their repair. And in some cases, these defects can result in conditions that are destructive to the home and endanger the health of occupants. In fact, consumers who purchase new autos today have better protection from poor workmanship than the buyer of a new home.
With the Supreme Court decision in Wilhelm v. Brewer and hopefully the passage of Prop. 201, Arizona will be a national leader in protecting the legal rights of its homeowners and their investment in the American Dream.
(Ken Kasdan is the senior partner of Kasdan Simonds Weber & Vaughan, a Phoenix law firm that respresents plaintiffs in construction defect cases. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stephen Weber is the managing partner of the Phoenix office of Kasdan Simonds Weber & Vaughan. He can be reached at email@example.com)