If I have purchased a home and found hidden damage to the foundation that the previous owner did not disclose, who is responsible for the repairs?

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If I have purchased a home and found hidden damage to the foundation that the previous owner did not disclose, who is responsible for the repairs?

Asked on April 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is possible you may be able to sue, but there are two major issues:

1) First, are you within the statute of limitations, or time period to sue? In Maryland, the statute of limitations for a case like this is three years (based either on the contract of sale or on fraud); if you purchased the home more than three years ago, you can no longer sue.

2) Even you could sue, the previous owners would only be liable if they were aware of the damage and did not disclose it. If they were unaware--or if, as a practical matter, you could not show that they knew or  must have known (i.e. the damage is not  so obvious the homeowner must have been aware of it)--they would not be liable.

If you believe you are within the statute of limitations and the the prior owners must have known of the damage, it would be worthwhile meeting with a real estate attorney to explore the possibility of a lawsuit  in greater depth.


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