Can anybody be held responsible for not disclosing to us when we purchased our home that there is a septic tank hooked up to half our house?

We purchased our house 4 years ago. About 6 weeks ago after doing several loads of laundry, I walked out to my backyard and discovered it was full of sewage. Come to find out that our laundry room and bathroom were not hooked up to the city sewer but went to a septic tank. They guessed that the tank probably had not been emptied in over 10 years (for sure not in 4 years since we had no idea it even existed) and that we would have to pay to hook up to the city since it was illegal to have a septic system in the city, which could cost thousands of dollars. Am I alone responsible?

Asked on September 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In the sale of any real property in all states in this country, the owner of real property has an obligation to disclose all items material to the purchase of the property including desirability of the property or what a willing buyer would pay for the parcel.

If the prior owners of the parcel that you acquired knew that it was illegally on a septic system as opposed to required city sewer hook up, the sellers owed you the duty to disclose this fact before close of escrow.

Your measure of damages would be the lesser of costs of hookup to the city sewer or diminution in value at close due to the failure to disclose.

You should consult with a real estate attorney regarding your situation. There may be some statute of limitations issues that could be running as to any claims that you may have against the seller.

Good luck.

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