What are my right if the seller did not disclose prior water damage?

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What are my right if the seller did not disclose prior water damage?

I recently had a toilet overflow causing excessive water damage to the bathroom and onto the lower floor which is the kitchen. The contractor stated that he found black mold and surmised that a bad leak had occurred previously, was not fixed and merely cosmetically addressed (i.e. water stains

painted over). Do I have any recourse? Was it the prior owner’s responsibility to disclose this info? The home inspection prior to purchase found no issues. I purchased the condo 4 years ago.

Asked on July 2, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It would be too late to take action, even if the seller had known of the problem as you suspect (you *must* be able to show that the seller knew but, despite knowing, failed to disclose: there is no liability for not disclosing what you are unaware of, since you  can't disclose something you don't know). The problem is, a claim against a seller based on non-disclosure is based on "fraud," and in your state (VA), a fraud cause must be brought within two (2) years of the alleged fraud or nondisclosure (that is, the "statute of limitations" is two years).


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