What can I do if I purchased a home less than 30 days ago and am finding flaw after flaw?

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What can I do if I purchased a home less than 30 days ago and am finding flaw after flaw?

I found an unsturdy wall that was covering windows and had to come completely down. The tub is lopsided and the sellers didn’t use caulk around the tub but instead glued a strip. It came loose from the shower water and now the bottom (underneath) the tub feels soggy and when you apply pressure; the floor water squirts out of the gap between the wall and tub. The water smells nasty. There seems to to an infestation of baby flies beginning. We kill at least 20/30 a day. Wondering if it’s from the water behind tub? When the kitchen sink runs w/hot water there is a noise coming from behind the wall. Not sure a drip or expansion noise. Front door leaks from siding.

Asked on June 29, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You *may* have a claim against the sellers for some, or possibly (but unlikely) all of the issues you write about. There are two different factors that must exist for liability:

1) First, there must be fraud. Fraud is when someone knowingly makes a material misrepresentation (lies about something important) in order to get you to do or buy something, and you reasonably rely (see below) on that misrepresentation. So they must have lied, which necessarily means they must have known about the problems(s), since if they did not know, they could not have lied. So, for example, depending on who built that unsturdy wall (e.g. the sellers, or prior owners), it's certainly not impossible that the seller did not know about it.

2) Second, though, you must not have been able to detect the problem yourself when you (or your inspector) looked at the home--that's it means that your reliance on the misrepresentation must have been "reasonable." To use an extreme example, say that I am selling my car as "runs well," but when you come to see it, the hood is open and you can see there is no engine. I'm lying; but you can tell that I'm lying and the true state of the car, so if you buy it, it is your responsibility. Based on what you write, some of the conditions, like the lopsided tub, are ones you or your inspector would have seen; others are ones you or your inspector would have caught during an inspection (like hearing a loud noise if you turn onthe hot water; the faucets should be tested during an inspection) and so, since you *should* have seen them, are ones which the law may consider that you did effectively see and buy the house despite knowing, or having the opportunity to know, of them.

Basically, you can potentially recover compensation for hidden or "latent" conditions which the seller knew of and lied. Since at least some, possibly many, of the conditions could fall into that category, it would be worthwhile speaking in detail with an attorney (bring photos, the inspection report, and the listing) to evaluate the case.


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