Texas Property Code - PROP § 27.004. Notice and Offer of Settlement

(a) In a claim not subject to Subtitle D, Title 16, before the 60th day preceding the date a claimant seeking from a contractor damages or other relief arising from a construction defect initiates an action, the claimant shall give written notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the contractor, at the contractor's last known address, specifying in reasonable detail the construction defects that are the subject of the complaint.  On the request of the contractor, the claimant shall provide to the contractor any evidence that depicts the nature and cause of the defect and the nature and extent of repairs necessary to remedy the defect, including expert reports, photographs, and videotapes, if that evidence would be discoverable under Rule 192, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.  During the 35-day period after the date the contractor receives the notice, and on the contractor's written request, the contractor shall be given a reasonable opportunity to inspect and have inspected the property that is the subject of the complaint to determine the nature and cause of the defect and the nature and extent of repairs necessary to remedy the defect.  The contractor may take reasonable steps to document the defect.  1  In a claim subject to Subtitle D, Title 16, a contractor is entitled to make an offer of repair in accordance with Subsection (b).  A claimant is not required to give written notice to a contractor under this subsection in a claim subject to Subtitle D, Title 16.

(b) Not later than the 15th day after the date of a final, unappealable determination of a dispute under Subtitle D, Title 16, if applicable, or not later than the 45th day after the date the contractor receives the notice under this section, if Subtitle D, Title 16, does not apply, the contractor may make a written offer of settlement to the claimant.  The offer must be sent to the claimant at the claimant's last known address or to the claimant's attorney by certified mail, return receipt requested.  The offer may include either an agreement by the contractor to repair or to have repaired by an independent contractor partially or totally at the contractor's expense or at a reduced rate to the claimant any construction defect described in the notice and shall describe in reasonable detail the kind of repairs which will be made.  The repairs shall be made not later than the 45th day after the date the contractor receives written notice of acceptance of the settlement offer, unless completion is delayed by the claimant or by other events beyond the control of the contractor.  If a contractor makes a written offer of settlement that the claimant considers to be unreasonable:

(1) on or before the 25th day after the date the claimant receives the offer, the claimant shall advise the contractor in writing and in reasonable detail of the reasons why the claimant considers the offer unreasonable;  and

(2) not later than the 10th day after the date the contractor receives notice under Subdivision (1), the contractor may make a supplemental written offer of settlement to the claimant by sending the offer to the claimant or the claimant's attorney.

(c) If compliance with Subtitle D, Title 16, or the giving of the notice under Subsections (a) and (b) within the period prescribed by those subsections is impracticable because of the necessity of initiating an action at an earlier date to prevent expiration of the statute of limitations or if the complaint is asserted as a counterclaim, compliance with Subtitle D, Title 16, or the notice is not required.  However, the action or counterclaim shall specify in reasonable detail each construction defect that is the subject of the complaint.  If Subtitle D, Title 16, applies to the complaint, simultaneously with the filing of an action by a claimant, the claimant must submit a request under Section 428.001 .  If Subtitle D, Title 16, does not apply, the inspection provided for by Subsection (a) may be made not later than the 75th day after the date of service of the suit, request for arbitration, or counterclaim on the contractor, and the offer provided for by Subsection (b) may be made not later than the 15th day after the date the state-sponsored inspection and dispute resolution process is completed, if Subtitle D, Title 16, applies, or not later than the 60th day after the date of service, if Subtitle D, Title 16, does not apply.  If, while an action subject to this chapter is pending, the statute of limitations for the cause of action would have expired and it is determined that the provisions of Subsection (a) were not properly followed, the action shall be abated to allow compliance with Subsections (a) and (b).

(d) The court or arbitration tribunal shall abate an action governed by this chapter if Subsection (c) does not apply and the court or tribunal, after a hearing, finds that the contractor is entitled to abatement because the claimant failed to comply with the requirements of Subtitle D, Title 16, if applicable, failed to provide the notice or failed to give the contractor a reasonable opportunity to inspect the property as required by Subsection (a), or failed to follow the procedures specified by Subsection (b).  An action is automatically abated without the order of the court or tribunal beginning on the 11th day after the date a motion to abate is filed if the motion:

(1) is verified and alleges that the person against whom the action is pending did not receive the written notice required by Subsection (a), the person against whom the action is pending was not given a reasonable opportunity to inspect the property as required by Subsection (a), or the claimant failed to follow the procedures specified by Subsection (b) or Subtitle D, Title 16;  and

(2) is not controverted by an affidavit filed by the claimant before the 11th day after the date on which the motion to abate is filed.

(e) If a claimant rejects a reasonable offer made under Subsection (b) or does not permit the contractor or independent contractor a reasonable opportunity to inspect or repair the defect pursuant to an accepted offer of settlement, the claimant:

(1) may not recover an amount in excess of:

(A) the fair market value of the contractor's last offer of settlement under Subsection (b);  or

(B) the amount of a reasonable monetary settlement or purchase offer made under Subsection (n);  and

(2) may recover only the amount of reasonable and necessary costs and attorney's fees as prescribed by Rule 1.04, Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct , incurred before the offer was rejected or considered rejected.

(f) If a contractor fails to make a reasonable offer under Subsection (b), the limitations on damages provided for in Subsection (e) shall not apply.

(g) Except as provided by Subsection (e), in an action subject to this chapter the claimant may recover only the following economic damages proximately caused by a construction defect:

(1) the reasonable cost of repairs necessary to cure any construction defect;

(2) the reasonable and necessary cost for the replacement or repair of any damaged goods in the residence;

(3) reasonable and necessary engineering and consulting fees;

(4) the reasonable expenses of temporary housing reasonably necessary during the repair period;

(5) the reduction in current market value, if any, after the construction defect is repaired if the construction defect is a structural failure;  and

(6) reasonable and necessary attorney's fees.

(h) A homeowner and a contractor may agree in writing to extend any time period described in this chapter.

(i) An offer of settlement made under this section that is not accepted before the 25th day after the date the offer is received by the claimant is considered rejected.

(j) An affidavit certifying rejection of a settlement offer under this section may be filed with the court or arbitration tribunal.  The trier of fact shall determine the reasonableness of a final offer of settlement made under this section.

(k) A contractor who makes or provides for repairs under this section is entitled to take reasonable steps to document the repair and to have it inspected.

(l) If Subtitle D, Title 16, applies to the claim and the contractor's offer of repair is accepted by the claimant, the contractor, on completion of the repairs and at the contractor's expense, shall engage the third-party inspector who provided the recommendation regarding the construction defect involved in the claim to inspect the repairs and determine whether the residence, as repaired, complies with the applicable limited statutory warranty and building and performance standards adopted by the commission.  The contractor is entitled to a reasonable period not to exceed 15 days to address minor cosmetic items that are necessary to fully complete the repairs.  The determination of the third-party inspector of whether the repairs comply with the applicable limited statutory warranty and building and performance standards adopted by the commission establishes a rebuttable presumption on that issue.  A party seeking to dispute, vacate, or overcome that presumption must establish by clear and convincing evidence that the determination is inconsistent with the applicable limited statutory warranty and building and performance standards.

(m) Notwithstanding Subsections (a), (b), and (c), a contractor who receives written notice of a construction defect resulting from work performed by the contractor or an agent, employee, or subcontractor of the contractor and creating an imminent threat to the health or safety of the inhabitants of the residence shall take reasonable steps to cure the defect as soon as practicable.  If the contractor fails to cure the defect in a reasonable time, the owner of the residence may have the defect cured and may recover from the contractor the reasonable cost of the repairs plus attorney's fees and costs in addition to any other damages recoverable under any law not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter.

(n) This section does not preclude a contractor from making a monetary settlement offer or an offer to purchase the residence.

(o) A notice and response letter prescribed by this chapter must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the recipient.  If previously disclosed in writing that the recipient of a notice or response letter is represented by an attorney, the letter shall be sent to the recipient's attorney in accordance with Rule 21a, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure .

(p) If the contractor provides written notice of a claim for damages arising from a construction defect to a subcontractor, the contractor retains all rights of contribution from the subcontractor if the contractor settles the claim with the claimant.

(q) If a contractor refuses to initiate repairs under an accepted offer made under this section, the limitations on damages provided for in this section shall not apply.

1 Vernon's Ann.Rules Civ.Proc., rule 192.1 et seq.

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