If the previous owner failed to disclose plumbing issue, can we go after them for the cost of repair?

We have been having a problem with our plumbing. When we run the water in the kitchen and downstairs bathroom the toilet water bubbles and gurgles. When we do laundry the pipe that washer is hooked up to over flows and then there is water all over the basement floor. Now when we shower there is water all over the basement floor and same sound from downstairs toilet. We’ve had someone come out and he says it is a problem with the sewer lines outside the house and we need to contact the water company or township. After talking with our neighbors we have a twin they said that they had a similar problem a few years ago and had work done. Said it cost them 10k. They informed us that the guy who did their work told the previous owners of our home that they had the same problem and he could fix it for them while

he had everything open and was working on the neighbor’s. The previous owners declined the work. They did not disclose any of this during the process of inspection or at settlement. Can we go after them if we can prove they knew about the issue, declined to have it fixed then failed to disclose it to us the buyers?

Asked on June 11, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the seller/previous owner for fraud. Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce your reliance which you justifiably relied on 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 buyer could not have reasonably discovered the true facts prior to purchase.
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 the difference between the actual value of the property and the value as represented in cases of misrepresentation.
Out of pocket loss is the difference between the value of what buyer paid and the market value of what was received.

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