Are we responsible for paying repairs and legal suit for structural defects unknown to us when we bought our apartment?

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Are we responsible for paying repairs and legal suit for structural defects unknown to us when we bought our apartment?

Latent structural defects in common property lead to lawsuit against the builder about 1 1/2 years ago, 2 months before we bought the property. Neither we or the brokers were aware of the defects and lawsuit. The previous owners, who were not living in the condo, did not know either. HOA meetings following a major hurricane, mentioned to all attending the existence of those defects. A lawsuit is ongoing and a decision in court regarding the builder’s liability is not expected before early next year. We wonder whether we have grounds for saying that the sellers could not ignore the existence of the latent defects that were thus undisclosed to us, even though the HOA website did not post the lawsuit until 1 /12 years ago.

Asked on June 2, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

If the previous owners were unaware of the defects, they are not liable or responsible for them, since they did not commit fraud: that is, they did misrepresent anything or conceal any known defects. They are not liable for things unknown to them. Therefore, as the current owners, you'd have to pay. Only if the prior owners knew of the defects (and therefore you can prove they did) could you sue them to make them pay or reimburse you.


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