Do we have any legal recourse to make the sellers correct this issue?

We closed on a property about a week ago. We did not have a home inspection done prior to purchase. The sellers stated in their property disclosure form that they were unaware of any leaks in the roof. After one day of rain the area above the kitchen sink is saturated to the point of the paint and underlying drywall are coming off. We have not moved into this property.

Asked on October 9, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Assuming that the leak existed while the sellers were in the home and did not somehow develop all of a sudden, then you may be able to sue them for the cost to repair. Sellers have a legal obligation to disclose serious or potentially serious issues of which they are in fact aware or which they reasonably (i.e. logically) should know (that is, any reasonable property owner in this position would have known). A failure to disclose such a known issue may be fraud, and fraud can provide a basis to sue and recover compensation. So if they will not work out something acceptable with you, you would have a reasonable chance to sue them for the cost you incur to repair. Note that you do have a legal duty yourself: to "mitigate," or minimize, damage and not make the damage or costs you'd be suing for worse or larger. So you have to take reasonable steps right away to at least reduce or prevent ongoing damage, even as you are trying to work matters out or filng a lawsuit. (For claims under the small claims limit, suing in small claims court, as your own attorney or "pro se," is a very good option.)

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