Is there a period of timeafter buying a new house that if something is found wrong the old owners are obligated to fix it?

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Is there a period of timeafter buying a new house that if something is found wrong the old owners are obligated to fix it?

My mother recently bought a new house. The previous owners did not disclose that there is some water damage in the basement, nor that water can still get in. There is wood paneling along that side of the wall in the basement. She also had a home inspector come in and he did not catch this. She hasn’t even started living in the house yet. Since she has closed on the house, has she now become responsible for fixing this problem or could the previous owners still be held responsible?

Asked on November 30, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

For any visible conditions, it is unlikely that your mother could recover from the owners following having the house inspected and having (presumably) had her own opportunity to view the home--she would likely be held to have bought the house subject to conditions which were readily visibly, even if it happens that she and the inspector missed them.

For conditions not readily discoverable, if they are material (or siginificant) and/or were required to be disclosed by the disclosure form(s), then if the previous owners knew of them and did not disclose them, your mother may have a cause of action. If she thinks this may be the case, she should consult with an attorney to explore her possible recourse. If the sellers did not know, however, they are probably not liable--people are not generally responsible for not disclosing that which they are unaware of.


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