What to do if I recently bought a house with a sewer problem?

We had a back up 2 weeks before we moved in and we had a plumber cleared it and thought nothing much of it. Anyway, the 2nd day after we moved in it was backed up in the evening and the rooter guy said we may have some problems. I called out another plumber that was going to use a camera and hydrojet to try to clear the pipes, but the camera found broken pipe. The plumber detected the pipe to be around 5 feet deep, plus under our concrete driveway. We agreed on a price of $6,500. When we digged it up, we found part of the pipe has been missing. We repaired it and took alot of pictures for proof and camera recordings inside pipe. Nothing about plumbing was disclosed when we bought the property. My plumber swears up and down to me that this problem was there way before i bought it. Can I sue my seller so that they have to pay for the repairs of all 3 plumbers?

Asked on September 24, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the seller for fraud and recover more than the cost of the plumbers.

Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce your reliance upon which you justifiably relied to your detriment.  In other words, you would not have bought the house had you known of the plumbing problems.

Fraud is also applicable in cases of nondisclosure where seller failed to disclose a material fact which the buyer could not have reasonably discovered as in your case with regard to the plumbing.

Your damages (monetary compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit for fraud) would be either the benefit of the bargain or your out of pocket loss.

Benefit of the bargain means a defrauded purchaser may recover the difference between the real and represented value of the property purchased regardless of the fact that the actual loss suffered might have been less.  (Your actual loss would be the cost of the plumbing repairs).

Out of pocket determination of damages for fraudulent misrepresentation  permits  recovery of the difference between the price paid and the actual value of the property acquired.

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