If I just purchased a home and a known leak was not disclosed, how canI proceed?

UPDATED: Aug 30, 2011

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If I just purchased a home and a known leak was not disclosed, how canI proceed?

We purchased a home, after living there 6 months we began to smell mold. We brought in a contractor who found mold infestation near the external water heater wall that penetrated the internal walls. ironically the contractor we called was the individual that replaced a leaky water heater at this home three months prior to escrow for the previous owner. thus she new about the issue but did not disclose it on the sellers disclosure form. we have an estimate for $11,500 for repair and abatement but the small claims court limit is $7,500 in CA. What should I do? and is seller liable?

Asked on August 30, 2011 California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

IF you can show that the prior owner knowingly misrepresented about the presence of mold, you may have a cause of action for the cost of remediation. The question is, can you show that? From what you write, the homeowner knew there had been a leak--since the homeonwer brought in the contractor to fix it--but while that suggests that she may have known about the mold, it does not necessarily establish it; for example, perhaps there was no mold last the homeowner looked. So the case is not open and shut.

If you choose to pursue it, you have the right to file in small claims court and simply give up the option to recover any amounts over the small claims court limit. This would potentially cost you money--the additional recovery--but could make the proceeding much faster and less expensive.

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