Can we file a claim for compensation at the small claims court against a realtor who systematically misrepresented the situation?

When we signed the lease for a business unit the realtor did not tell us there was an ongoing issue with the sewer of the building and therefore we could not get a business use permit to operate our or any business in this unit. We found that out when our permit application got rejected. During the next 5 months the realtor kept on telling us the situation would be fixed in a matter of weeks, which was not the case. Now 7 months later, it’s still not resolved. It now appears that connecting a building to the sewer takes at least 6 months, a realtor should know that. Furthermore, according to the landlord the realtor was aware of the sewer issue when we signed the lease and the landlord was surprised the realtor never told us. The realtor also tried to convince us to operate with permit. We moved to another location but deception of the realtor caused a lot of stress, loss of time, lost business, additional costs, etc. We would like to get some compensation for that. Can this be done in small claims court?

Asked on November 22, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If you can show that that under the circumstances, the realtor knew of the issue and deliberately concealed it from you, you could sue the realtor based on fraud: on a misrepresentation (essentially, a lie about) a material (or imporant) issue. You would likely need to subpoena the landlord to appear in court, to testify that made the realtor aware of the issue (the realtor is not required to indepenently investigate it, so someone would have had to have told him/her). You could sue for provabably economic losses (e.g. costs; possibly lost profits, if you can sufficiently prove them) but not for stree, lost time, etc.--only for provable economic losses--up to the small claims limit.


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