What is our recourse regarding defects on our propertythat were hidden by the previous owners?

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What is our recourse regarding defects on our propertythat were hidden by the previous owners?

We purchased our current house in 6 months ago. We had recently received a good deal of rain. We found that the ground had settled and shifted under our deck (we are built on a hillside). The ground cracked and dropped up to 6 inches in places. This is where the previous owners had done some groundwork. Upon inspecting the area under the deck (they boxed in and laid down gravel) it was found that about an inch of gravel was above the crack and up to 6 inches was below the crack. This was an intentional hiding of the damage. Ideas?

Asked on April 25, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should consult with a real estate attorney to determine if you do have a claim or cause of action. It will likely hinge on whether the seller's intentionally or knowingly deceived you about a material fact. So if they were aware of damage or issues that would cause problems in the future, this may have been a form of fraud, and you may be able to sue for compensation--e.g. the cost to fix.

On the other hand, if they legitimately and reasonably thought that what they'd done had fixed the problem or that there would be no future consequences, then there might be no claim; people are liable for wrongdoing, generally, not simply for being wrong. Therefore, whether you have a claim will turn on the specific facts, and you should discuss the situation in detail with an attorney who can evaluate them for you. Good luck.


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