What are a buyer’s right if a seller failed to disclose that the house had polybutylene piping?

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What are a buyer’s right if a seller failed to disclose that the house had polybutylene piping?

I recently purchased a home. When I began to run the steam heating in the fall/winter, I noticed the boiler was losing water rapidly. This eventually was determined to be a leaky return pipe. When we finally found the broken pipe, it was a PB pipe with a plastic fitting. The initial seller’s disclosure indicated there was no PB pipe in the house. The house was purchased by the seller in 1990, therefore, the seller must have known about the PB piping. Is there legal recourse for this willing omission?

Asked on January 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The issue here is one of notice (whether the seller had notice prior to selling the home to you). The type of notice he or she needed to know would depend on whether that defect could have been discovered by the seller or if it was a hidden defect. If the seller had the same issues with steam heating as you had, and did not indicate it on the home disclosure, there could be a colorable claim you may have to sue the seller for the cost of repair.  However, if you had an inspector come out to inspect the home and the inspector did not find this issue and it was not a hidden defect, then you may be out of luck.  Talk with a real estate attorney in your state (many offer free consultations) and see if this is something he or she would feel worthwhile to pursue for you (you may try to negotiate both the cost of repair/replacement and attorneys fees). Also, consider speaking with your homeowner's insurance to see if it can offer legal representation (if this is part of your policy) or if the company would pay for the repair/replacement and then sue the former seller and any inspector for contribution.


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