If buying an item from a private owner, does “as is” on the bill of sale exempt themfrom any wrong doing regarding the sale?

I bought a boat from a private owner that was not as advertised. When I signed the the bill of sale it stated “as is”. I view “as is” in meaning if it breaks or does not function to my expectation then so be it. But I don’t feel it should cover the seller if he misrepresented the product as to what it was. I feel there should be a liability to the seller to be honest and a “as is” stipulation should not be a blanket no responsibility.

Asked on September 21, 2011 under General Practice, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You *may* be right. A lot depends on the following:

1) Did you have a chance to inspect the boat prior to buying it? If you did, and if the fact that the boat was not as advertised was something you did or should have seen on inspection, then you would not have a cause of action--when you buy something "as is" after having a chance to inspect it (or being offered the chance, but choosing to not do so), you waive the right to complain about anything the inspection would or should have revealed. So, for example, say the boat is described as being a 25 footer, but it's clearly shorter than that (18') and you bought it anyway--you would be obligated on the sale and likely have no recourse.

2) If the problem was not obvious on inspection, then the issue may be did the seller him/herself know of it? If the seller did and did not disclose it, that might be fraud, which may entitle you to damages or to rescind the transaction. But if the seller did not and reasonably should not have known of the issue, he is probably not liable.

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