Can I sue a landlord for not disclosing the defects about the house before I sign the lease?

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Can I sue a landlord for not disclosing the defects about the house before I sign the lease?

I signed a lease for a house 2 years ago.

This house is located right next to a railroad. I was aware of that the train
passes by the house couple times a day and the owner disclosed the facts.

Right after I moved in, we noticed the house actually shake like an earthquake
whenever big container rail passes by. Not only that we started to seeing
cracks on walls.

We had hard time sleeping and stressed about this whole shaking because I
work at home and we had to live under pressure that this house may collapse
anytime soon.

Please kindly help us if we can sue the landlord for not disclosing the fact that
house shakes whenever large trains passes by.

Thank you.

Asked on May 9, 2018 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you have no grounds to sue the landlord or, for that matter, get out of the lease due to the train shaking the house. A landlord is only potentially liable for not disclosing issues which the tenant would not reasonably have been able to discrern or identify for him/herself. For example, if a home is located on the same street as or otherwise near a school, the landlord does not need to disclose that there is traffic, noise, and a problem finding parking at school drop-off and pick-up. A landlord near an airport does not need to disclose plane noise; one renting space above a bar or club does not need to disclose that there will be music playing at night; a landlord renting out a home in the woods does not need to disclose the presence of wild animals; etc. The landlord's only obligation is to disclose what is hidden, not to do the tenant's "due diligence" for the tenant and warn the tenant about what is open or obvious or plain. In addition, even for hidden (also called "latent") issues, the landlord only needs to disclose those on the property or under his control, and not in the surrounding neighborhood or area.
The house is next to a train track: that is not hidden. The owner also disclosed the fact that trains go by, so the owner actually did disclose this, even though he did not have to (given that the tracks are obvious). You may underestimated or not fully appreciated what it was like to live near a train, but the fact that a train ran by was known to you; you therefore have no cause of action or legal claim.


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