Right to Cure Law
In the event of a dispute concerning construction defects after a construction or remodeling project is completed, the state of Wisconsin has created a step-by-step process which allows contractors the chance to address the complaint before a lawsuit is filed. This is known as the "Right to Cure Law," or 2005 Wisconsin Act 201.
What is the Right to Cure Law?
The "Right to Cure Law," or 2005 Wisconsin Act 201, requires consumers who feel they have a claim concerning defective workmanship or materials to first provide a written notice to contractors or suppliers before any legal action can be taken. Construction defects can involve workmanship, materials, or code requirements in new construction or remodeling, but not maintenance or repairs. Claims may be made by owners, tenants, or property associations.
This written notice and the subsequent step-by-step process allows contractors and suppliers the opportunity to respond to a consumer claim before the matter is taken to court, in an attempt to save both parties the costs associated with a lawsuit.
The Wisconsin Builders Association played an instrumental role in the passage of this law.
What Does the Process Look Like?
- Notice of Claim - At least 90 working days before commencing an action against a contractor or window or door supplier or manufacturer, a claimant must deliver a written notice of the alleged defect to the contractor.
- Contractor's Response - The contractor will have 15 working days (or 25 working days if it involves a defect involving a window or door supplier) to provide the claimant with a written (1) offer to repair or remedy the defect (2) offer to settle the claim with monetary payment; (3) offer of a combination of (1) and (2); (4) statement that the contractor rejects the claim and the reasons for rejecting the claim; or (5) proposal to inspect the alleged defect or perform necessary testing.
- Claimant's Response - If the contractor rejects the claim, the claimant may proceed to commence an action against the contractor. The claimant must serve written notice on the contractor within 15 working days if he or she either accepts any offer or rejects an offer. Note that if the claimant has a claim against a window or door supplier or manufacturer, the claimant should contact the supplier to ensure that the supplier received a notice of the claim from the contractor.
- Contractor's Supplemental Response - If the claimant rejects the offer, the contractor has 5 working days to provide a written supplemental offer or notice that no additional offer will be made.
- Claimant's Response - If the contractor has provided the claimant written notice that no additional offer will be made, the claimant may commence a lawsuit or other action against the contractor. If the claimant has received a supplemental offer from the contractor, the claimant must respond within 15 working days.
Some additional highlights to note:
- Claimants may accept settlement offers, accept them in part, or reject offers, doing so via detailed written notice.
- The law does not apply where there is no contract to construct, as in the case of purchasing an existing home.
- Contractors and suppliers have the right to inspect, and, as appropriate, test alleged defects.
- Access must be provided in a timely fashion for inspections, tests, and repairs.
- Additional claims made or discovered after an original claim are treated as separate in terms of time and process.
- There is a different timetable and process for the claims and responses if a contractor seeks contribution from a supplier.
- Failure by the claimant, contractor, or supplier to follow the "Right to Cure Law" can result in delay or dismissal of legal or arbitration services.
To see a full brochure on the Right to Cure Law, click here.