Is the seller of a house responsible for problems discovered by a buyer after closing?

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Is the seller of a house responsible for problems discovered by a buyer after closing?

Asked on December 12, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It depends entirely on whether the owners knew or should have known of the problems but failed to disclose them (or actively hid/misrepresented them). Except if the owners had given you some guaranty or warranty, they are only liable in the event of fraud--the knowing misrepresentation, or sometimes also omission or failure to state, of material (or important) problems. Liability based on either mispresentation or omission requires knowledge--if the sellers did not know or have good reason to know of the problem(s), they would not be liable.

For example: say there is a roof leak. If you found drywall which was clearly recently repainted to cover  up a leak, that suggests the owners knew and hid the problem--you may be able to recover from them.

On the other hand, say you found termite damage in a beam, but there is no evidence that the owners knew--they probably would not be liable.


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