Does a seller have to disclose a known poor functioning drain field?

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Does a seller have to disclose a known poor functioning drain field?

Asked on December 22, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

When selling a home , a seller is under a legal duty to disclose "material defects" of the property. And there is no question that an inadequate functioning drain field is a such a defect. If the seller knew, or should have known, of this defect and did not divulge this information to you as the buyer, then they breached their legal duty. In fact, such a non-disclosure may constitute legally actionable fraud, in which case you can sue them for the cost to repair the problem, and depending on state law, you may also be entitled to additional damages.
At this point, you should consult directly wih a real estate attorney in your area. They can more fully advise you as to your rights and remedies in this case.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, an owner is obligated to disclose "material"--that is, important--defects with the property, and a poorly functioning drainage field would qualify as a material defect. If the owner knew of the problem and failed to disclose it, he may have committed fraud; if so, that would make him liable (such as if you sued him) for the cost to repair or remediate the condition.


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