Owner withheld information when we bought the house

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Owner withheld information when we bought the house

My husband and I bought a house 5 months ago. About 3 months later we had to have the entire sewer line replaced because the lines were rooted so badly, and then the plumbers discovered the piping was made of orangeburg. We had all of the inspections done properly and all seemed fine when we closed. However, the neighbor informed us that right before inspections, that the owner rented a snake for the line and was clearing it out. We also found out that previous tenants the owner used the house as a rental were constantly having plumbing problems but they moved because the owner refused to fix the problems. Of course none of this was disclosed to us, and we are sitting with a hefty credit card debt because of it. Is there any legal action that we can take?

Asked on September 12, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If the seller knows about a material, or important/significant problem--as this seller evidentally did, with the sewer line--and does not disclose it, then he or she has likely committed fraud.
(The only kind of problems that a seller does not have to disclose are ones that don't need to be disclosed because they are so obvious--e.g. large holes, a porch which is sagging or being held up by 2-by-4s, etc. But problems which are not reasonably obvious or apparent, which are called "latent" problems, must be disclosed.)
If, as may well be the case, the seller has committed fraud, then you could sue for compenation if they won't voluntarily provide it, such as for the cost of the repairs, etc. you had to make. If the amount is less than the limit for small claims court, you may wish to sue in small claims, on a "pro se," or as your own attorney (to save on legal fees) basis. Otherwise, consult with an attorney.

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