The implied warranty of habitability allows a homeowner to recover damages for latent defects that interfere with the intended use of a home. In Sienna Court Condo. Ass’n v. Champion Aluminum Corp., 2018 IL 122022, 2018 Ill. LEXIS 1244 (2018), the Supreme Court of Illinois held that buyers of new homes cannot assert claims for breach of the implied warranty of habitability against subcontractors involved in the construction of the homes because the subcontractors have no contractual relationship with the homeowners and the damages are purely economic. As the court explained, the implied warranty of habitability is a creature of contract (not tort) and, therefore, only exists when there is contractual privity between the defendants and the homeowners.
In Sienna, a group of condominium unit owners alleged that their new homes contained latent construction defects and asserted claims against the various parties involved in the construction and sale of the homes, including claims against the defendant subcontractors for breach of the implied warranty of habitability. The plaintiffs contracted with the property developer to purchase the homes, but the plaintiffs had no contractual relationship with the subcontractors involved in the construction of the homes. The Sienna court, overturning the decisions of the trial court and the appellate court, granted the subcontractors’ joint motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims for the implied warranty of habitability because the plaintiffs had no contractual relationship with the subcontractors and the damages were purely economic.