I am responding to a column, “Not on the level,” by Greg Wilson in the Aug. 10-11 edition of the San Mateo Daily Journal.

The column highlights that even those lucky enough to be currently housed may one day be affected by the lack of housing options in our area. I was curious about his main theme that there seems to be a lack of buildings with single-floor condos being built. I learned that one reason may be the condo liability law which states that in a typical condo project, the developer is liable for 10 years. Within that window, owners can form a class and sue if any defects to the building are discovered.

To be clear, owners and communities should be able to hold developers accountable, but one consequence of this is that developers have a strong incentive to not take on outside owners for the first 10 years of a building.

Indeed, that may be why most of the newer buildings are rental only. After 10 years, such buildings often end up being converted from rentals to condos. The detached nature of townhouses means that it is less likely that structural problems will affect a whole class of owners, so again liability exposure is less.

Of course, if there were more parcels of land zoned for multi-story developments throughout the Peninsula, we might be seeing more of the types of housing Mr. Wilson would like to see. There are developers out there who are not in the rental business and we should be providing them with more opportunities to build.

Nathan Chan


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