Can we sue our seller for failure to disclose sewage problems?

We closed on an older house about a month ago. The seller had lived in the house previously and indicated on the disclosure that no leaks, backups, or other problems relating to the plumbing, water, and sewage systems existed. 3 inspections were performed on the house did not find an issue with the sewage line. We moved in a week ago and immediately the toilets started gurgling and then stopped flushing and our main line backed up. The blockage is so bad that the water will not drain even after a couple of days. The plumbers say anyone living in this house would have had the issue.

Asked on November 5, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

IF the seller knew of the problem and misrepresented the status of the plumbing and sewer to you, then you would have grounds to sue for the cost to fix the problem: the seller would have committed fraud.

However, whether the plumbers think that anyone living in the home would have had the problems does not 100% prove the seller had the problems or was aware of: e.g. if the seller had fewer people in the home, the plumbing may have been able to handle the outflow; or  possibly something shifted and blocked the line after the seller moved out; etc. That's not to say you couldn't win a lawsuit, but just to point out that 1) winning is not guaranteed; and 2) to win, you'll likely need plumber expert tesimony, which itself will cost money.

If the problem is fixable for a few hundred or even up to, say $2,000 dollars, it may not be worth suing, given that you'd have court, expert, lawyer, etc. fees and still be certain of winning.

For several thousand dollars of costs, however, the situation is obviously different, and a suit may be warranted.

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