Can I take legal action against the seller for not being truthful on the seller’s disclosure statement when I bought the house from him?

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Can I take legal action against the seller for not being truthful on the seller’s disclosure statement when I bought the house from him?

My house has major structural issues that I was not aware of before buying the
house in 2007. The seller gave me misleading information in the disclosure
statement. The structural issues seem to be caused by the land being poorly
prepared before the house was moved from another site. I was not made aware
that the house was moved from another site until neighbors told me after I
signed the mortgage. Now I have sink holes all over my property and the back
side of the house is starting to settle causing the roof over the porch to
start pulling away from the house. Apparently, judging from the debris, this
land may have been used as a rural neighborhood ‘landfill’ at some point. There
are also indications that proper permits were not obtained when the seller made
‘improvements’ to the house. The seller indicated no structure on the property
had been moved from another site in the disclosure statement he signed.
He stated the house was built in 1950, but satellite images in 1994 show no
house on this property.

Asked on August 7, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, when a home seller misrepresents (i.e. lies about) and/or fails to disclose material, or significant, facts in order to induce you to purchase the home, and it is reasonable for you rely on those misrepresentations (i.e. no warning signs obvious before you enter into the transaction, which suggest you should dig deeper) and you do in fact rely on those misrepresentations, he or she has committed fraud. Fraud  can potentially provide a legal basis to rescind the sale (undo it; return house, get money back) and/or to get compensation (such as the cost to shore-up/fix the structural issues and get the permits). Based on what you write, the seller appears to have committed fraud, since lying about whether the house was moved or about whether it was fully permitted, and not disclosing structual problems which he logically or reasonably should have been aware of, would have been material misrepresentations. You should consult with an attorney about the situation in detail, to better understand the strength of your case, what it might be worth, and the cost to pursue it.


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