Repairs to house after closing

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Repairs to house after closing

We recently sold our home and closed on Jan 17th and we had two weeks of possession after closing to move out. On January 19th, we had a unusually warm day and our above ground pool thawed out and we discovered a large tear in the liner. We were not aware of the tear before closing on the home and the only reason we noticed it was because of the warm day and the pool thawed. The buyers are asking us to pay for it and accusing us of having known about the issue and not being honest with them. I believe that we are not liable because we did not know about the pool and it was not discovered until after closing. How should we handle this?

Asked on March 5, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Legally, IF the tear existed prior to the closing date and you were not aware of it and also reasonably should not have been aware (if a seller *should* logically be aware of a condition or problem given the circumstances, then he or she can held accountable as if he or she did in fact know--is to prevent people using "willful blindness" as a defense), then legally you would not be liable. Where as a practical matter you may have trouble and could lose (if sued) is:
1) If due to the size, placement, etc. of the tear in the liner, it would appear more likely that you should have been aware of it previously than that you should not have--if you were sued and the court believed this were the case, then you could be liable under a "fraud" theory. The fact that you may not in fact have known would not help if you a court believed you should have known.
2) If it appears that the damage did or may likely have occured during your two weeks of possession, you'd be liable to repair it: after closing, if the seller remains in possession, they are obligated to maintain the property in the same shape it was in on the day of closing and turn it over to the buyer, when the vacate, in the condition it was in at closing.


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