If I bought a house but it wasn’t disclosed that neighbor next door in a vet with mental issues, what can I do now?

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If I bought a house but it wasn’t disclosed that neighbor next door in a vet with mental issues, what can I do now?

There were past incidents (such as assault on a kid in neighborhood) but criminal record. About a year ago, he assaulted a neighbor resulting in on going criminal case. Then 7 months ago, he assaulted me and I got a restraining order that he keeps violating. The people who sold us the house called me a few weeks ago and shared that they (and their kids) felt unsafe around him. I was on speakerphone and recorded what they shared. They never disclosed this dangerous neighbor. Can I sue them and for what compensation?

Asked on January 14, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you most likely cannot sue them: the law does not require a home seller to proactively disclose conflict with neighbors or issues with the neighborhood (unlike, say, the way they must disclose material, or significant, issues with the home itself). Not having a duty to disclose this, they do not incur liability for failing to do so. IF you asked specifically about whether any of the neighbors were dangerous, had made threats, etc. and, in response to your question, they lied, they *might* be fraud; if you think that was the case, then discuss the matter with a litigator (an attorney who handles legal matters and lawsuits). Be warned that fraud can be a difficult claim to make successfully in a case like this, because you'd have to prove what you asked, what they knew, and that they affirmatively lied.  If they did commit fraud, in theory you could potentially rescind the sale--basically make them take the house back and return your money--though it's more likely that a court would order that some amount of monetary compensation be paid you.


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