House purchased 30 days ago, can’t use shower or toilets without sewage flooding coming from downstairs toilet. Problem started 4 days after closing

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House purchased 30 days ago, can’t use shower or toilets without sewage flooding coming from downstairs toilet. Problem started 4 days after closing

Problem started 4 days after closing on
house. It is my 26 y.o. son who
purchased home. Home vacant for 7
months prior to selling. Called
RotoRooter out said tree roots had
grown through sewage line costs to
repair 8,800.00. First time home buyer
Not found during inspection but
obviously this didn’t just happen since
he has owned home. Doesn’t seem
right he should be responsible
financially for this situation. Does he
have any recourse?

Asked on December 27, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The realtor is not responsible for what her client did or did not disclose. The seller may be liable for the repair costs IF the seller knew, or reasonably must have known (any reasonable seller, under the facts as they existed, would have known) of a problem which was not readily discoverable to the buyer (a "latent defect") but failed to disclose it: failing to disclose such problems is fraud. 
The issue is, did the seller know, or logically must the seller have known? Knowledge is required for fraud; a seller if not liable if he did not know of the issue(s). You indicate that the home was vacant for 7 months pre-sale. Who sold it? If it was sold by someown who had not previously lived there (e.g. children of the prior owners; an investor who bought it for resale; a bank which foreclosed on it; etc.) it is very likely that the seller did not know and would not have had reason to know, and so is not liable.
If your son believes, on the other hand, that the facts show that this seller should have known of the problem, he could sue for fraud for the cost to repair the conditions.


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